Positive thoughts ease depression

Thinking positive thoughts could be one way people with depressive disorders can help to combat their condition, new research has suggested. Published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, the study revealed positive activity interventions could offer hope to those who do not have access to medical therapies.

Kristin Layous, Joseph Chancellor and Sonja Lyubomirsky from the University of California, Riverside and Lihong Wang and P Murali Doraiswamy, of Duke University - situated in Durham, North Carolina and home to 13,000 students - found methods such as practicing optimism, being kind, using one's unique strengths and counting one's blessings offer a low-cost and safe approach to depression that can be self administered.

The researchers noted these techniques "teach patients ways to increase their positive cognitions, emotions and behaviours without professional help".

Journal editor Kim Jobst described the findings as "groundbreaking" because they apply across the world to all people at all times, but especially in today's culture of dependence.

Dr Peter Martin, Chair of the British Psychological Society's Division of Counselling Psychology, commented: "As a practising Counselling Psychologist, I am aware that clients are getting better when they can appropriate the strengths and opportunities in the life that they have, as opposed to the life that they would wish for. 

"Sometimes they can be helped to do this by a degree of direction. Usually, however, they find it out themselves in the mindful presence of a therapist. In this case the discovery tends to last and be a gift for life. 

"All cultures have ways of putting people back in touch with the good things in life. As clinicians we are part of that noble endeavour."