For the Greeks, libraries were places of healing of the soul. Literature and poetry are therapeutic tools that can help us overcome depression. After all, a book is more than just a refuge.
The combination of letters and thought provoking worlds is a conduit that awakens our minds. It makes us compare, explore and even reborn stronger than ever.
However, we do need to set something straight. Literature alone will not make a person overcome depression. As you may already know, this condition requires a multidisciplinary approach.
Finding the right form of therapy, counseling and medication, eating a healthy diet and living a healthy lifestyle can help patients struggling with depression.
The ancient Greeks were right: books are healing tools. During World War I, British hospitals also discovered the benefits of literature. Many soldiers who complained about trauma disorders found the most comforting help that doctors and nurses provided them with a selection of books.
Literature and poetry can thus be valuable working tools to reshape your mind. They are allies of change. Books are like places that help us heal and find peace. They do this at the times when our depressed minds follow the path of chaos. They are soothing pills and they boost well-being.
Literature and Poetry: Can They Really Help Us Overcome Depression?
Matt Haig is a British writer who became famous for his book Reasons to Stay Alive (Reason to stay in Life). In this book he tells what it was like to suffer from depression for several years. It is anything but a self-help book.
The author wanted to shed some light on a very specific aspect. Everyone should be able to find their own strategy. We all need to find our own vital reason for escaping the darkness, a motivation to be born again, and a key to closing the door of depression. Reading books was his strategy and more specifically fiction.
Haig came to the same conclusion as many psychologists and psychiatrists. The latter group, however, went a step further. Not only fiction books but also poetry is an exceptional resource for many patients who suffer from this psychological condition.
Fiction Books Change Your Perspective
Reading fiction books can make us feel more human. After all, people who suffer from depression are trapped in a space where they are not always in control of their thoughts. In this place, everything they feel is detrimental, negative, and self-destructive.
- Reading fiction books involves changing our perspective. That way we feel empathy for certain characters.
- The brain relaxes. The fragmented mind finds rest by connecting with a story, with the details and with concrete emotions.
- At the same time, those stories that the main characters experience are full of changes. Change is exactly what people with depression need.
A fiction book therefore offers the opportunity to think about things from a different point of view. It also gives us the chance to become optimistic and follow our goals, dreams and desires.
Poetry describes the complexity of life
They say the first poem is over 4,300 years old. It is an ode to Inanna, an ancient goddess and written by Enheduanna, an Akkadian poet. Why did this literary style begin to exist? What were the intentions of the people who played with words, rhymes, verses and beautiful compositions?
According to a publication of the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, poetry allows us to share our emotions. In the difficult moments we often experience, we need a language that is able to handle those difficulties. It’s a language that transforms them into something simple, plays with and challenges them. Poetry helps us to vent.
Literature and poetry: a way to be born again
People say that literature and poetry are our refuges. Actually, however, they are our way out. They are special windows through which we can view the world. They are doors that help us come out stronger on the other side.
When you read, you rebuild yourself. You discover other possibilities and organize your ideas. You add new ideas and destroy the old ones.
After we finish a novel or read a poem, something inside us changes. Something heals us and wakes us up. We then look at ourselves and the world in a different, wiser and healthier way.
So let’s not underestimate the power of literature and poetry. After all, they can help to overcome depression. They can be great allies.