Donating Blood Can Improve Your Mental Health | Pittsburgh City Paper

Donating Blood Can Improve Your Mental Health

Our community has an ongoing need for volunteer blood donors to help patients in area hospitals. Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood to survive. Trauma victims, people being treated for cancer, and patients undergoing surgery are just some examples. Clearly, patients who receive blood transfusions experience positive outcomes.

But there are also amazing benefits for blood donors.

Volunteering to give blood is a simple way to improve your health and happiness while helping those in need. Studies have shown that volunteering can combat depression, increase self-confidence, create a sense of fulfillment, and maybe most importantly, provide a sense of purpose. This is due in great part to the “happiness effect” you experience when your brain releases dopamine — a type of neurotransmitter that influences mood.

A volunteer is someone who does something – especially helping other people – willingly and without being forced or paid to do it.

Volunteering may also counteract the effects of stress, anger and anxiety; boost your sense of pride and identity; and keep you mentally stimulated.

Keep in mind that volunteering doesn’t have to involve a long-term commitment or take a huge amount of time out of your day. For example, it takes only about an hour for a whole blood donation. If you’ve never donated blood before, this video shows how simple the process is. 

“When you don't know what to do with yourself,
do something for someone else.”
- Lilian Jackson Braun

There are other surprising perks of blood donation, too. For example, many blood donation centers pride themselves on their sense of community and camaraderie. People who give blood frequently develop friendships with the donor care staff and their fellow donors, who are all committed to helping save lives.

Donating blood also offers an opportunity to relax. Platelet donation in particular allows you to chill out, because the process takes around two hours. You can stream a movie on your device or listen to music on your headphones. Vitalant’s 10 donation centers have TVs positioned in front of the donation lounges.

Choosing to donate blood can potentially change your life … and will definitely make an extraordinary impact on somebody else’s.

Inspired to become a volunteer blood donor? If it’s important to you that your blood helps a patient right here in the Greater Pittsburgh area, please consider Vitalant. Formerly Central Blood Bank, Vitalant is the exclusive blood provider to Allegheny Health Network and UPMC hospitals. To make your life saving, happy-raising appointment to give, please visit or call 877-25-VITAL.

Support for this lifesaving initiative is being
provided by Highmark Foundation.