The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Can baking ease depression?

Ruralidle's picture

Can baking ease depression?

Have a look at this article in the UK's Independent newspaper, which name checks forum member Breadandwine and his blogspot "nobreadisanisland".

dabrownman's picture

that for beginners - bread baking causes depression!  But I can tell you from my own experiences, that those with mental and physical handicaps or both love to bake and can be taught and trained to make a great loaf of bread using their hands or machines depending on their disabilities.  We have have been supplying used bread machines purchased at Goodwill to those in need and then teaching them how to use them or teaching the mentally disabled how to make bread by hand for many years,  Their efforts eventually pay off and the the great bread they make puts the biggest smile on their and our faces.  The feeling is quite overpowering.

So if you see a good bread machine or other kitchen appliance at Goodwill and can afford to buy it for your local school district who might be teaching and training the disabled to become more independent and learning new skills, by all means do so.  I know some Wounded Warriors who also love to bake their own bread too. 

It makes perfect sense to me that every kind of wounded, even if just depressed a little, can benefit from making a loaf of bread.

My hats off to breadandwine who has been training the disabled to make bread for a very long time.... and a reminder to him that it is almost time for real mincemeat pie that has real meat in it !

Happy baking

Antilope's picture

Depends on how it comes out. ;-)

Breadandwine's picture

Wow! Thanks, Ruradidle, for posting this - I had no idea until I read a TFL tweet, then followed the link.

And I appreciate your kind words, DAB. Thank you, and hats off to your good self for your work with Goodwill.

It does seem to me - and I've held this view for a long time - that everyone can benefit from making their own bread. But about the depressed and wounded - DAB says it much better than I can - maybe they would benefit the most.

The article has inspired me to greater efforts in my reaching out to a wider audience - hope it does the same for others.

Coincidentally, I taught an older man with Parkinson's how to make a simple soda bread, just yesterday at a breadmaking taster day in Nether Stowey, Somerset, run by Quantock Eco. He came, walking with a stick, to my breadmaking table - his daughter (I presume) had to sign in for him and he needed a little help measuring out the ingredients - but, once he started mixing the dough, he really came into his own. He'd made all his own bread for many years, but had never made a soda bread - until yesterday!

I've written (I'm writing) about the taster day here, on my blog:

DAB, back to your post: while the rest of the world has moved on with respect of mincemeat, mince pies, etc, in that they've now become - while not quite vegan, at least vegetarian - parts of the US have remained firmly rooted in the past. Whilst a great upholder of most traditions, I do feel that this is one you guys can safely let go of!

However, if you want to make a good meat pie, I feel I can help you there! With a yeast-risen bread crust, of course!

Best regards and happy breadmaking! B&W

nora sass's picture
nora sass

Hi, I enjoy cooking and recently getting myself into bread making. Even started to my own sourdough culture. I find that bread making is sort of a Therapy for me. Thought I should share this with you. I do not use any bread machine but just my pair of hand. I failed few times but it does not bother me. It only motivates me more to get it close to perfection and I am stil trying very hard at it.


foodslut's picture

Based on the following admitedly lonely data points alone, I'd have to agree with dabrownman:

It makes perfect sense to me that every kind of wounded, even if just depressed a little, can benefit from making a loaf of bread.

- I know "anecdote" is not the singular form of "data", but whenever I give away home-made bread, people seem to love it.  In some cases, they even take the paper bag it's in and hug it to their chest to get some of the warmth into them.  My guess:  if receiving home-made bread leads to this kind of reaction, making one's own bread from scratch after never doing so before has got to be emotionally enhancing.

- Taking it a step further, I know I get a boost whenever I give my bread away, so it's not outside the realm of possibility that someone making bread and giving some away could get a bit of an emotional boost.

- In the U.K., there's actually a commercial bakery near a military barracks, Veterans' Artisan Bakery, where soldiers recovering from PTSD and other post-war issues work as a form of vocational rehab.  Here's a link the BBC program where I first heard about the bakery - it's worth a listen (especially to accounts of other kinds of "wounds" being healed through baking).

Thanks, Breadandwine, for sharing your experiences with differently wounded folks.

Ruralidle's picture

If you have read my profile you will see that I am semi-retired.  This is as a result of a stroke I suffered nearly 8 years ago and baking gave me a interest, challenge and enjoyment after my illness - particularly when Richard Bertinet taught me how to make bread that was edible!  I use a combination of mixer and Bertinet's slap & fold technique, depending upon how much pain I am suffering in my affected hand, on the day I choose to bake. 

Slap & fold really gives my hand that was affected by the stroke a good physical workout and the pleasure of producing bread that is good to eat and is enjoyed by myself, family and friends is a great psychological boost.

As a result, I am a strong believer in the therapeutic benefits of baking.

baking seagull's picture
baking seagull

baking is a great way to relieve stress and eliminate depression

i had been depressed for quite some time but i found once i started doing serious and frequent baking, i started feeling better

nightmares about certain events ceased and i was less inclined to hurt myself in any way

just be sure it doesnt become such an obsession that u forget to nourish yourself ;)

Ruralidle's picture

This is really good to hear and although "man cannot live by bread alone", you can give it a darned good try when your obsession gets the better of you ;)


BreadBro's picture

Baking helps to take your mind off of things that bother you. If you have a tendency to ruminate on problems in your life, focusing on measuring flour, kneading, baking, reading recipies all help to focus your mind on somethign external. There's no doubt that when I'm feeling really low and depressed that baking helps to make me feel better. Sometimes I think there's nothing better than opening the oven and seeing a picture perfect loaf sitting right there on the stone.

ichadwick's picture

For me, baking is like a science experiment. I love to tinker. It never depresses me, but then my results have been edible so far. I'm not prone to depression, so I can't say if it cures it, but it does make me happy to bake bread. Of course, that might just be the glass of wine I have while doing so. Or the flour-covered ukulele I pick up when I've finished the dough, to play a tune while it rises.