According to various studies throughout the years, it has been demonstrated that knitting could delay dementia and fight PTSD. People like Sarah Huerta, who experienced a traumatic loss and developed post-traumatic stress disorder, find comfort in this hobby which seizes their attention and calms down severe anxiety which can be triggered by actions like stepping outside the house or driving a car. As CNN reports, experts state that crafting can help people suffering from depression, anxiety or chronic pain, but hobbies can also can also alleviate stress, boost happiness and protect the brain from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Although little research has been done particularly on crafting, studies on cognitive activities like knitting have led neuroscientists to believe that this activity, along with others like doing crossword puzzles, could delay dementia and fight PTSD. Catherine Carey Levisay, a clinical neuropsychotherapist and spouse of Craftsy.com chief executive John Levisay, stated that creating is beneficial for health, no matter if people choose to decorate a cake, knit, draw or photograph.
Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi described the phenomenon as flow, which best describes the moments in which a person is so absorbed by an activity, that nothing else matters. Therefore, when knitting, doing crossword puzzles, cooking or indulging in other recreational activities, a person is fighting PTSD without even knowing. During a TED talk in 2004, Csikszentmihalyi stated that flow is the secret to happiness, because since the nervous system can only process a certain amount of information at a time, the entire existence outside the activity becomes “temporarily suspended.”
At the same time, occupational therapist Victoria Schindler, who wrote a paper called The Neurological Basis of Occupation along with co-author Sharon Gutman in 2007 stated that patients could use activities like knitting, drawing or other projects of this kind as a non-pharmaceutical manner to balance strong emotions or even prevent irrational thoughts. Levisay supports Schindler’s point of view because she believes that such activities could release dopamine, which is a “natural anti-depressant.” According to a study published in The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 81 percent of the total of 3,500 knitters “with depression reported feeling happy after knitting.”
Neuroscientists also believe that people who knit could fight PTSD and delay dementia, especially since over 35 million people worldwide live with dementia and the number is expected to triple by 2050. A study carried out by researchers from Mayo Clinic in Minnesota concluded that people between the age of 50 and 65 have a 40 percent diminished risk of dementia and, in later life, those who continue knitting or patchworking reduce the risk by 30 to 50 percent. Sarah Day, Alzheimer’s Society’s head of public health stated that, since “one million people will develop dementia in the next 10 years,” scientists must find ways to prevent this condition. Moreover, a study published in 2011 in The Journal of Neuropsychiatry concluded that crafting, playing games or reading books could diminish the chances of developing mild cognitive impairment by maximum 50 percent and neuroscientist Doctor Yonas Geda assures people “ageing does not need to be a passive process.” Various studies throughout the years led neuroscientists to believe that leisure activities like knitting could delay dementia and fight PTSD.
By Gabriela Motroc