Altruism Therapy or as I like to think of it, Mitzvah Therapy is useful in treating people who are depressed. Often I encourage patients to volunteer and the improvement in their well-being is noticeable. When we do for others we often benefit as well.
Random studies comparing those who volunteer and those who don’t are difficult to conduct. However there are hypothesis as to why volunteering can be helpful in reducing depression.
- Any activity is good activity. Volunteering keeps us physically and mentally active.
- Social connections release oxytocin—the feel good hormone.
- Volunteering can help provide a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives.
- We can get a sense of perspective outside ourselves and our problems.
- It can be fun and we may make new friends.
For people suffering mild to moderate depression a structured volunteer program is most helpful. If you are not suffering depression, and want to feel better each day, try doing a ‘mitzvah’ a day.