Baking for Mental Health: Now That’s a Delicious Idea

In this article for Mind, Laura Dernie talks about how baking helped her tackle depression after the birth of her children.

As she explains, in 2009 she was diagnosed with depression. At her most ill she found herself having irrational thoughts that food was contaminated or poisonous. It got to the point where she had to keep food in a separate fridge.

The one day that really sticks in her mind is standing at the sink obsessively washing a piece of cutlery over and over again, then bursting into tears. Hearing her little boy asking my husband “Why is Mummy crying” just about broke her heart.

It was only after the birth of her daughter in 2013 that she was able to admit to myself that I was ill, and start proper treatment. It didn’t happen overnight, but thanks to the right medication, a good psychiatrist, proper therapy and a wonderful supportive family, things started to get better.

The extra helping hand she needs on bad days comes from baking. She’s not the only one who finds it therapeutic — John Whaite spoke openly about his mental health and how baking works for him too. Like John, she believes that while baking is never going to cure depression, it can certainly help with the symptoms.

It’s all about control. Depression can make you feel like a passenger in your own mind – your feelings and emotions are in the driving seat, and you’re just along for the ride.

But when it comes to baking, she is always in charge. It takes care, precision and concentration, and it keeps the negativity and numbness at bay. Making something beautiful helps me her back some of the sense of self-worth that depression and anxiety eats away at.

She’s been able to help good causes with my baking, raising money for several charities including Mind. It’s led to all sorts of charity work and volunteering, which adds to that feeling of self-worth.

Baking helped to bring me back; it made her a better mom, wife, daughter and friend.

Adam Wahlberg

Founder of Think Piece Publishing