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Journal Writing As a Complementary Therapy for Reactive Depression: A Rehabilitation Teaching Program


13220 W. 102nd Street, Lenexa, KS 66215


Brief, recurrent, reactive, or situational depression is a common and costly comorbidity that affects chronically ill patients and their family members. This article describes a program that teaches those individuals how to monitor and cope with symptoms of depression by writing daily in a journal. Twenty patients and family members attended teaching sessions at which videotaped scenes of other patients managing symptoms of depression were shown. After viewing the six scenes, participants wrote about their reactions to each scene and listed the emotions they had experienced that were similar to those shown in the tape. They were then asked to record daily for 4 months their emotions and reactions to situations and to also daily self-rate their levels of energy. They were also provided with a list of recommended activities in which to engage when they were depressed. Two psychiatric nurses evaluated the writings and concluded that the program was influential in helping patients and families overcome many emotionally draining reactions to adverse circumstances.