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Can Cooking Help People With Depression?

Depression is a difficult disorder to live and cope with. The disorder is also extremely common. Due to the unique nature of mental illness, your experience with depression will not be identical to anyone else’s. Overall, there are some consistent treatment options. One underexplored avenue of treatment is cooking. In this blog, we’ll explore the ways that cooking helps with depression.

Behavioral Activation as Depression Treatment

When you experience depression, you can receive relief from a treatment called behavioral activation (BA). BA is based on the cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) triangle. Thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are three corners of a triangle. They’re all connected. Ultimately, BA focuses on the mood and behavior points of the triangle.

Psychologists have pretty well established that depression prevents you from partaking in or enjoying activities. Subsequently, the lack of enjoyable activities makes your depression worse. BA attempts to reverse this downward spiral. Ultimately, the technique can be used as its own treatment, or it can be used within the context of CBT.

Cooking as Behavioral Activation

In BA, you schedule enjoyable activities that fulfill your values or needs. You partake in the activities like cooking. Depending on whether you want social interaction, you might do this alone or in a class. To start, you might learn basic cooking skills. Eventually, as you advance your abilities, you can start learning more complex recipes.

By making progress of any kind, you can receive a hit of positive hormones, which can cause a slight uptake of mood. Consequently, you’re reinforcing the activity, improving the likelihood that you’ll continue doing it. Over time, the activity can become easier to engage in.

Self-Reliance and Confidence

As a person with depression, you may not feed yourself. Changes in weight related to food intake are included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a symptom of major depressive disorder (MDD). Food can improve your energy levels, which is a huge issue for people with depression. You might find yourself able to do more during the day. Moreover, cooking allows you to care for your body.

All of these improvements can improve your feeling of confidence. As someone with cooking skills, you may feel more self-reliant. Plus, now you can create something meaningful. In many cases, food is an art. It doesn’t have to be super nourishing. Also, it doesn’t have to look pretty. If you find it special, that’s what matters. That’s what will help ease your depressive symptoms.

When you’re struggling with depression, you may feel lethargic and apathetic. Cooking can be used as behavioral activation to help your symptoms. Through this process, you can learn to enjoy activities again. You can feel more self-reliance and confidence. This technique, in conjunction with other therapies, may help you feel less impaired by your depression. At The Guest House, we can offer you traditional and holistic forms of therapy. We understand that everyone’s needs are unique, so we encourage you to take advantage of our five different levels of care. To start your healing journey, call (855) 483-7800.