Can writing heal anxiety and depression?

writing

Occasionally, we may feel anxiety and depression when we are faced with certain situations. But there are some people who experience such feelings longer than they really should, or have the feelings triggered by things we can consider too minute to create such an effect. Such people could either have depression or an anxiety problem. It is usually difficult to deal with these kinds of problems; but one method researchers have found effective is writing.

Writing is known to be one of the best ways to communicate. Many individuals will be incoherent if they had to express themselves in front of people but will conveniently pass their message when they write it down. It may be difficult to believe that writing can help heal a depression or anxiety problem, but research has proven that it does; at least for some people. So what kind of research has been carried out on this issue? More importantly; just how beneficial is writing to anxiety and depression patients? Let’s find out together.


1. Talking is good; writing may be better

Psychologists and other medical experts have found that people feel better when they face up to disturbing emotions. Facing up to their emotions is all about confiding in a trusted friend or colleague, but it could also be writing it out to yourself. According to Dr. Jessie Gruman, former executive director of the Center for the Advancement of Health, people who keep a journal are more likely to deal with depression.

When people write down things that could trigger anxiety or depression, they are more likely to explain it better and more orderly. This gives them a sense of correctness and is emotionally beneficial because it reassures that they’re right, thereby making them more stable psychologically. Language is itself a powerful tool that helps people organize their thoughts. People who can use powerful language when writing out their depression and anxiety triggers will certainly get more benefit than those whose language is a little weak.

2. Holding back from stressors is difficult; writing could help with that

It is always a big challenge having to deal with the factors that trigger depression and anxiety. That can be compared to trying to hold back natural emotions like crying when you lose a loved one. And as we’ve already seen, talking about the stressor can help out. But not every individual is comfortable talking to people. Some people are naturally shy expressing themselves even to those closest to them. Writing is a better option for such individuals.

3. Writing may not be effective for everyone

While experts do not stop highlighting the benefits we can get when we write out our anxiety and depression problems, they have not failed to mention the fact that it may not be effective for every individual. Even for those who get the benefit, it certainly does not apply in every situation. One of the few researchers who has carried out extensive studies on the subject is James W. Pennebaker. He is a Centennial Liberal Arts Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas. Pennebaker says writing will not be an effective anxiety and depression control mechanism if

  • it is done as a substitute for action
  • it is done as an intellectual exercise
  • it is all about uncensored complaining
  • it is used as a self-absorption tool.

The social psychologist says in such situations, writing could instead have a negative effect on the patient.


If you are one of those who is currently using writing to heal anxiety and depression, you probably are already reaping the benefits. But many people may be going through the same situation and do not even know that they have such a problem.

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