Bookworms always advocate the fact that reading a paperback does wonders to the mind. And now a study agrees, with researchers suggesting that reading can ease depression.
While not exactly a cure, experts believe that reading is effective and could reduce reliance on antidepressants in many cases.
With the number of cases rising in depression, fears are being fuelled that doctors are prescribing far too many pills too freely to patients with depression who might get better.
Interestingly, two recent studies have found patients prescribed reading for mild to moderate depression — a treatment known as bibliotherapy — saw improvements in mood and psychological well-being.
Researchers at the University of Turin in Italy published an analysis of ten studies of bibliotherapy. Their findings, published in the journal Clinical Psychology Review, showed that participants in at least six studies saw significant improvements in their depression scores for up to three years after taking part in a course of reading therapy.
‘Bibliotherapy appears to be effective in the reduction of depressive symptoms in the long term, and could be an affordable treatment that reduces the need for medications,’ the researchers concluded.
A second study, conducted by the University of Groningen in the Netherlands published in the journal PLOS One last year, looked at whether non-drug therapies such as reading could combat depression in the elderly.
Researchers found studies, dating back decades that suggest reading could boost the mood of pensioners. This thinking moved into mainstream psychiatric medicine in 2013 when a ‘Books On Prescription’ scheme was launched by the Department of Health.