How to Manage Mental Illness. Cartoons Worked for Me.

Animated series have become my unlikely ally in fighting depression and anxiety.

By Lauren Rearick


This article has been re-shared from it’s original source,


More than six years ago, I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and depression. The traditional approaches ― exercise, journaling and breathing skills ― have helped, as has medication. And I watch cartoons.

Yes, this year I discovered a surprising degree of comfort in a 12-year-old boy named Steven Universe.

Animated series have become my unlikely ally in fighting depression and anxiety. Over the past year, I have turned to cartoons again and again. My mind begins to feel at ease, my worries disappear and, sometimes, unlike in the rest of my life, I even laugh.

The joy and fun that I’ve felt while watching cartoons like Fox’s “Bob’s Burgers” and Cartoon Network’s “Adventure Time” left me wondering if cartoons may actually be a significant tool for mental health. And it turns out that watching cartoons when you’re feeling low can be a good idea.

“People naturally find a systematic way of coping with their anxiety or depression,” according to Jack Cahalane, chief of adult mood and anxiety services at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “Your form of coping would be watching cartoons. It makes sense because cartoons are very light, interesting and creative.”

Cahalane explained that people who struggle with mental health tend to neglect themselves and the world around them, using avoidance behavior to escape bad feelings. During these periods when anxiety and depression can be heightened, we’ll look for what brings us joy and pleasure, activities that are typically easy and low stress.