Creating happy memories can boost depressed people’s mood

anima phonebox

Scientists say that associating a positive memory with an everyday object, like a phonebox, can be mood boosting.

When you’re in the grip of depression, it can be difficult to recall anything positive from the past or feel any optimism for the future. But scientists have tested a method of creating positive memories which have some evidence of boosting the mood of people who feel depressed.

The positive memory strategy is called Method-of-Loci (a way of linking something you need to remember with a location you know well)  and it was tested by researchers the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge (UK). The report of their findings was published in the Clinical Psychological Findings journal.

In tests, they asked people with depression to come up with 15 positive memories and then to associate those memories with a positive feeling or everyday object, such as a phone box or the front of their house. The outcome was that this technique of association was more effective in recalling happier memories, which could help alleviate depressive symptoms.

The scientists conclude: “Depression impairs the ability to retrieve positive, self-affirming autobiographical memories. Our study shows that richly elaborated or self-affirming memories in those with a history of depression can have a self-reported beneficial effect on mood.”

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