Does Reading Help Fight Depression?
Many people find solace in books, a place to escape from their mundane lives and hide from the daily troubles of life. Book reading has been known to have therapeutic effects on people suffering from depression. In fact, many people unconsciously begin exploring books and novels when they feel down. You might be wondering how is depression and book reading connected, some believe it is because books provide the brain with stimuli, something to distract the brain from the saddening thoughts that usually assail a depressed mind.
Reading also encourages your brain to imagine all kinds of things, and if you are reading a novel then you can even escape your own emotions for a while and instead try to feel what the characters in a book get to experience. A well written book can really immerse one in a story, letting you connect with characters on a very personal level, this leads to a sense of belonging and companionship that can make you feel like you belong. A major element that reinforces depression is loneliness, and reading can help alleviate this feeling to a certain extent.
A study conducted by Art Council England showed that people who go to libraries on a regular basis are more content with their lives and are more mentally healthy. This shows that being an avid reader also provides you with the opportunity to form bonds and find a sense of community outside of the imaginary worlds confined to paper.
Reading also lets you explore emotions felt by other people, and in doing so, you find assurance that you are not the only one who is going through difficult times or experiencing emotions that cannot be explained. Many people have found that by diving into someone else’s emotions and feelings, they have been able to understand their own feelings as well. Reading helps you sort out your emotional state and your train of thought, it can certainly help one survive depressive episodes.
However, you should not think of reading as a cure to depression, you cannot read a medical condition into non-existence. Depression should be taken on with the help of a medical professional, someone who provides you with guidance and helps you take care of your condition. A book is more like a secondary form of therapy, one that can be pursued along with primary therapy delivered by a medical professional.
Another thing that you should remember is that if you start thinking of books as some sort of medicine that you need to take when you feel down then you will eventually condition yourself to associate book reading with negative emotions. This could take the joy of reading from your life and actually turn book reading into something unenjoyable. So, the next time you pick up a book to feel good, do it with the thought that you are about to go into your happy place rather than telling yourself that you need this to get better.