Many of my psychotherapy clients find journaling and writing to be helpful in dealing with depression. Some people find relief in letting their emotions out by expressing them in a written words meant only for themselves. Some journal and bring in their work to share with me. This helps me understand more about their emotional life and what happens for them outside of sessions. In one of my psychotherapy groups, clients write about topics we are considering that day and share their thoughts with the group. Sometimes we use story prompts or write poetry to discover more about what’s below the surface.
Writing may accomplish several things: It helps organize our thoughts, making them seem more manageable; it can help with compulsive worry by getting the circular thoughts down in a linear format; it gives expression to emotions which may feel overwhelming when contained only within our selves; it may help us find a way to communicate with others what we are experiencing.
Elizabeth Maynard Schaefer, PhD has written a helpful book called Writing through the Darkness: Easing Your Depression with Paper and Pen (Celestial Arts, 2008). She explains how to use writing to help with depression and gives many excellent writing prompts.
She emphasizes that writing is therapeutic not therapy. You should always seek professional help if you are having persistent depression and immediate help if you have thoughts of self harm.