Years ago we called journaling “keeping a diary.” Writing down your thoughts and concerns, especially with attention to consciously thinking of things to be grateful for, can help you in many ways. Research has shown that people who keep in mind things to be grateful for are less depressed, less suicidal, and have less anxiety. This is one reason journaling can be an important tool to help prevent postpartum depression.
There is no need to share your journal entries with anyone. You can if you want to, but it’s definitely not a requirement to share your journal to help you be less depressed. You may want to share some of the ideas in your journal with your husband or partner, but again, that is strictly your decision.
If you want to share the ideas in your journal with a health care provider, whether a doctor or a therapist, I would suggest keeping a second journal. Providers are often limited to 15 minutes with you. Your doctor can’t address a list of 13 problems in the time allowed. This second journal allows you to pick out what’s most important to you and bring your concerns to your doctor’s attention.
A journal doesn’t replace a therapist, but if you can’t get an appointment to see a counselor right away, a journal helps bridge the gap. Even if you are fortunate to have access to the behavioral healthcare you need, journaling can still play an important role in lowering your depression and anxiety. You can choose to share your journal with your counselor or not. Again, the choice is up to you.
Whether you pray, meditate, or journal, the old saw about an attitude of gratitude has become recognized as very effective in helping establish and reinforce self-esteem. Good self-esteem helps protect against depression, anxiety, suicide, homicide, and drug overdose.