Researchers have been exploring how gratitude can improve mental health for years now. They’ve found that it could actually alleviate depression symptoms in some people. Practicing gratefulness has a huge impact on our mindset, and it is not that being happy makes us grateful, but rather deciding to be grateful makes us happy. The intentional practice of gratitude has the power to change ingrained negative thinking and rewire neural pathways that contribute to happiness. Scientists say these techniques elicit feel-good hormones like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. Practicing gratitude and mindfulness is not always exciting, but doing so can rewire the brain and have a huge impact on a person’s day-to-day life and the way they view the world.
Refocuses on the Positive
By turning to gratitude, people are allowing positive thoughts to create new neural pathways, which contributes to overall health. The stronger thoughts on a particular subject are, the stronger the pathway becomes. Our strongest neural pathways become our default thinking, so our depression could be rooted in our automatic negative thinking. It is also important to note how we see ourselves and the world around us. Abundance doesn’t come from things, it comes from a mindset. It turns out that feeling rich or poor actually has very little to do with how much we have, but instead how we think about what we have. By developing the abundancy mindset, and changing those neural pathways, symptoms of depression could drastically improve.
Practicing gratitude has been shown to reduce the stress hormone cortisol as well as increase the ‘feel-good’ hormone, DHEA. By giving thanks for the blessings a person has, they are able to let go of toxic negative emotions. Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack. Of course, it is natural to draw social comparisons, but gratitude can help to reverse that way of thinking. With the reduction of comparisons and cortisol and the increase of DHEA, stress and depression can be alleviated.
We often think that happiness comes from external things, but that’s not the case. It is human nature to always want more. We see a shiny new object and immediately need it to fulfill some kind of void. Instead, fill that with gratitude. By feeling and expressing gratitude, we are able to look at what is really important to us in our lives and acknowledge their existence, that way we are truly able to appreciate them.
Gratitude Has Lasting Effects
Interestingly enough, if practiced daily, gratitude can have almost the same effect as medication. It has been described as a natural antidepressant. As was mentioned earlier, gratitude can actually change brain structure and chemistry. So, when we practice gratitude we are strengthening the neural pathways of contentment and gratitude. These are healing and last structures in the brain’s chemical makeup. Research shows that the hippocampus and the amygdala are activated, and these parts of the brain aid in emotional regulation which can make a person feel safe and content. Essentially, gratitude is a way to regulate the autonomic nervous system and turn on a parasympathetic response. Regulating the nervous system has a big impact on reducing the symptoms of depression. The prefrontal cortex is also affected by gratitude. All of this is to say, that it has been scientifically proven that gratitude has lasting effects that reduce depression symptoms.
There are many ways you can incorporate gratitude into your life. Focusing on the things you have by writing in a gratefulness journal, thanking the people who mean the most to you, meditating, and praying can all help you gain the benefits of gratefulness. If this does not work, there are plenty of options when it comes to seeking help. Therapists are essential personnel, and many are offering virtual sessions or outdoor treatment rooms during Covid-19. Our ketamine clinic is also open and treating patients who are struggling with severe cases of depression, or other treatment-resistant mental health disorders.
There is hope during COVID-19. Contact us for a free consultation today.
Contact Ketamine Greater Boston
Ketamine Greater Boston offers Spravato™ nasal spray and ketamine infusions for the treatment of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other psychiatric conditions. If you are suffering from treatment-resistant depression and haven’t found a solution, ketamine could be what you’re looking for. Contact us for a free consultation today to learn more about ketamine infusions and find out if you’re a candidate.