What is it?
A person who is depressed identifies activities that give them pleasure. They then try to do more of these activities.
How does it work?
There is a theory that a lack of pleasant activities might be a cause of depression. It is thought that if depressed people do pleasant activities more often, it will help their depression.
Is it effective?
Engaging in pleasant activities is an important component of cognitive behaviour therapy for depression. This type of therapy is known to be effective. However, there is not much research on whether pleasant activities on their own are helpful for depression. One study found that pleasant activities produced as much improvement as some other psychological therapies. However, this study did not assess whether pleasant activities produced more improvement than no treatment at all. Another study found that when depressed people engaged in pleasant activities, their mood did not improve.
Are there any disadvantages?
No major ones known.
Where do you get it?
This is a simple treatment that anyone could do on their own.
There is not much evidence that pleasant activities are helpful on their own for depression.
- Biglan A, Craker D. Effects of pleasant-activities manipulation on depression. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 1982; 50: 436-438.
- Zeiss AM, Lewinsohn PM, Munoz RF. Nonspecific improvement effects in depression using interpersonal skills training, pleasant activity schedules, or cognitive training. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 1979; 47: 427-439.
Last reviewed and updated: 1 February 2006