AFP 91 – Fight depression by learning languages

This might be my most powerful episode yet. In this episode I list reasons why language learning is a great tool against depression. I also share some tips from my personal experience and my personal back-story.

Language learning: A great tool against depression

This is a unique episode, and I'm fairly confident at least half of you out there won't like it. That's okay because the other half will hopefully love it.

In the episode I share my personal road to discovering the language learning community and my top reasons for why language learning is a great weapon against depression.

I also share a few of my own experiences learning languages while depressed and what considerations you have to make.

This is a very intense episode, but also part of my new philosophy of KEEPING IT REAL.

This is an important topic to me, so I hope you'll share the episode or the contents with a friend who might need it.

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Listen to the episode

Show notes

  • My story
  • Why language learning is a great tool against depression
  • How to learn languages when depressed

Show resources

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  • polina says:

    thank you SO MUCH for this episode. i just accidentally discovered your podcast while looking for some tips on vocabulary acquisition. i want to second everything you’ve said. i suffered from clinical depression after losing my father, and going back to language learning has helped me get myself back.

    One of the things i’d like to point out to those who suffer from this difficult illness – you definitely will have challenges in the memory and focus department. this used to make me feel worse until i realized it was a side effect of the depression. i used to not be able to focus on anything for an extended period of time (reading even a page of printed text was next to impossible during the year following losing my dad… let alone memorizing 100s of words in a wordlist)

    you had an excellent point on not comparing yourself to others, especially the hyper polyglots! focus on your own day-to-day progress. put together a realistic plan for your target language also try to get the “feeling good” book by dr. david burns. it’s chock full of information that will help you cope and lead you out of the “hermit zone”.

    • Kris Broholm says:

      Great reply, polina. Sorry I missed it earlier. Thanks for sharing your own story. Depression definitely makes us ‘slower’ learners, but who cares? We’ll get there eventually with all the same benefits 🙂

  • I just love this topic. I think you’re really on to something here, Kris. I hope this is something that you never stop exploring.

    Depression involves the inability to connect with people, and language is the principle means of connection. The interplay between the two is fascinating. The concentrated work and practice of learning how to speak–this must have positive effects for those struggling with depression.

    Have you ever sought a researcher to look deeper into this issue? You should find a cognitive scientist or a neurologist who could get deeper into this. You have a great idea here that could help a lot of people.

    • Kris Broholm says:

      I’ll keep going – thanks!

      My presentation in Montreal in July will be about this topic. I guess I could do a non-academic research study on the topic 🙂

      I’d love to work more on myself and share some of the insights and solutions with the world. Sometimes it’s hard though, with everything in life simply occupying so much mental space that going out to find, say, cognitive therapists, psychiatrists or any other branch of assistance is a challenge.

  • Haruka Murayama says:

    I listened to your episode. The story is so deep, and thought provoking. It is said foreign language abilities expand future prospects, such as career, but what language learning benefits us is not only that, but also the positive influence on mind and thoughts patterns of people.

    I have been learning English for more than 6 years… but still my level is not good enough. I need to learn from your efforts.

    As I am really interested in your strategies of learning, and the process of your psychological transformation, could I possibly ask some questions through email?

  • Justin says:

    Hi Kris,

    Thank you for having the courage to put out an episode like this. I was moved by your story and the way you told it: without embellishing or apologizing, and with the full understanding that some people won’t get it.

    I’ve dealt with depression for a long time and I’m just starting to appreciate the ways language learning can help. I think it’s especially powerful for people (like me) who can’t stop thinking or ruminating. Language learning takes up mental space and energy that is otherwise wasted on negativity.

    I’m learning Spanish and Thai and really enjoying both languages even if I haven’t made it very far yet. I hope you’ll keep putting this message out there because I’m sure it is helping people.


    • Kris Broholm says:

      Thank you Justin for the support and encouragement- I appreciate it so much!

      I hope you reach your goals in Spanish and Thai and get some opportunities to use it to have some amazing experiences around the world 🙂

      Where are you based? Have you considered coming along for one of the major events? That was life-changing for me….

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