This article supports and adds to the ideas promoted in the article, Music is Often Better than Prozac, published on October 16, 2006.
In an age where pill popping has become the method of choice for mood lifting, it was refreshing to read an alternative view on dealing with feelings of depression. The article, cited above, discussed the mental health benefits music. Research in the area of expressive arts therapy is just beginning to show evidence that music and other forms of the expressive arts, can be very powerful ways to heal and improve your mental well-being.
Prozac and other medications may be necessary for clinically significant problems, but there are many people who suffer from lower levels of depression or anxiety, who may not benefit from using medication. Alternative types of therapies can often provide self-help tools that actually help to manage everyday life better than relying on medication. Even those who do require medication can benefit from expressive arts techniques.
The Healing Power of Cinematherapy
Cinematherapy is the practice of watching movies to improve mental health. Though, motion pictures have been around for several decades, it is only recently that the mental health benefits of movie-watching have begun to show promise. Movies often have the uncanny ability to temporarily deliver our minds to a place where we can express a wide range of emotions in a way that connects us with the main characters or movie theme without the concreteness of our own life dilemmas.
Many times, movies have the power to make us laugh or cry, drawing on our inner emotions and providing a safe release of feelings that have been unexpressed or pent up. How many times has your doctor recommended that you have a good laugh and call back in the morning? Aside from Patch Adams, I doubt that many would prescribe a few videos from Blockbuster and a night with the DVD player with a bucket of microwave popcorn. Yet, everyone can probably recall a certain movie that made them feel better or a movie that really made them think, or cry, or laugh until their own problems seemed lighter.
Movies as therapy may sound like a strange concept, but there are many positive benefits associated with watching movies as a way to combat depressive symptoms or improve mental health. The wide variety of movies available today, allow viewers to choose a movie to fit the mood. Christmas Vacation might be a good choice when the anticipation of holiday house guests is getting stressful. Certainly, the Griswolds’ Christmas will make your family gathering seem tame.
If you’re having work-related stress or problems with your boss, the classic movie, 9 to 5 or Working Girl might help. Both movies might help release some of your inner anger. If you need a good cry, Terms of Endearment or the friendship story of Beaches might help to bring on the tears.
The list of movies that can be used for cinematherapy is virtually endless. The term may be new, but many people have long known that movies can trigger some of our deepest emotions, leaving viewers cheering or jeering at the movie screen. Movies can sometimes teach or help us to understand things too. Until A Beautiful Mind showed the reality of living with schizophrenia, how many people really understood this complex mental illness? Jack Nicholson brought attention to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in As Good As it Gets, and numerous other movies have shed light on other mental health issues.
There are known health benefits for laughing and crying that can be found just by choosing a movie that triggers the right set of emotions. A few hours of laughter with one of your favorite comedies can help to get you through the work week or ease your own worries. Sad movies often bring up feelings that we have left dormant, giving these feelings a chance for release. The therapeutic benefits of watching movies might even save you a trip to the doctor when your stress levels decrease. Whatever your mood, there is a movie to fit at the local Cineplex or Blockbuster.
Suggested Movies to Fit the Mood
When you’re looking for romance:
An Officer and a Gentleman
Sleepless in Seattle
Best Friend Movies:
Thelma and Louise
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Fried Green Tomatoes
Open Your Eyes Movies
Dances With Wolves
Good Cry Movies
Terms of Endearment