I’d like to give a massive thanks to everyone who attended my workshop on ‘Mood Nudges’ as part of Manchester Girl Geeks (MGG) event for Geek Mental Help Week.
I’ve written about the workshop in more detail on the MGG website, where we used exercises from Jon Cousins’ Nudge Your Way to Happiness: The 30 Day Workbook for a Happier You to generate simple mood-boosting ideas.
You can read more about what we did in the workshop here.
The Science Bit
At the end of the workshop I alluded to some recent research Jon that suggested the Mood Nudges 30 day programme made a real difference to those who completed the workbook.
Jon has given me a sneak preview of the findings which are outlined below:
We set out to understand whether using the book Nudge Your Way To Happiness can help people who are clinically depressed.
If we measured their depression with a test that doctors use, before and after working their way through the book (which
takes 30 days) would we see a difference?
The test we used, called the PHQ-9 – the 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire) – produces a score between 0 and 27, with 0 meaning no depression, and 27 representing the most severe depression possible.
The score range is divided into five bands that, apart from the highest division, are drawn at five-point intervals.
Healthcare professionals use the PHQ-9 to help decide, in part, what treatment – such as antidepressants or psychotherapy / counselling might best help a patient.
They also ask patients to complete the test as one way of determining whether or not a chosen treatment is working.
When the PHQ-9 is used to measure progress, the rule of thumb is that a reduction in score of 5 points or more over a period of 4-6 weeks means the current treatment regime is working, and should therefore be continued.
We asked 51 people to use the book for 30 days, completing the PHQ-9 before they started, and again when they’d finished.
The participants were a randomly chosen subset of readers of the Moodnudges blog who weren’t pre-selected on the basis of being depressed, so the sample included a range of individuals from those who had only the most minimal depression to others who were experiencing moderately severe depression.
The results, which can be seen in graph form, show two important findings:1. Across the board, the average reduction in PHQ-9 score over 30 days was 5.3, suggesting that using Nudge Your Way to Happiness can be as clinically effective as antidepressants or psychotherapy.
2. The greatest reductions in score were seen in those who were most depressed to start with. On average these participants’ scores fell from a level definitely placing them in the Moderately Severe category to one at the very lowest end of the Moderate division: only a whisker away from being labelled Mild.
Future work could involve working with a larger sample, and structuring the study as a randomized controlled trial. But these early results do seem promising.
Find out what we did at the Mood Nudges workshop for Geek Mental Help Week hosted by Manchester Girl Geeks.
Mood Nudges website and daily blog: http://moodnudges.com/
Moodscope (free and paid options): https://www.moodscope.com/
Thanks to Mark Brown aka @markoneinfour and my brother Ellis for helping me develop the workshop format.