Scientists at the Ohio State University have analyzed the data from twenty seven different studies that all looked at the effectiveness of “gratitude intervention” for treating anxiety and depression. While the researchers think that practicing gratitude is beneficial it has “limited” clinical effects on depression and anxiety.
While different kinds of gratitude practice have been a part of all kinds of professional therapies to suggestions made second-rate self-help books the fact may be that in treating clinical depression and anxiety it just isn’t that effective.
There are two very popular practices. One is called “three good things.” In this exercise one writes down three good things that happened to them that day and reflects on them. The second is a known as a “gratitude visit” in which one writes a leader to someone they know thanking them for the value they add to their life.
Many of the studies did comparative work between a gratitude practice activity and another activity with a dissimilar topic. As an example, a study might have had a college student write about their class schedule instead of a gratitude activity.
In these types of studies, it was found that gratitude practice had not much more success at relieving people’s symptoms than any other kind apparently unrelated activity.
Researchers stated that, perhaps unsurprisingly, just telling people to be more grateful for what they have when it comes to helping their depression and anxiety symptoms isn’t all that useful.