An international study has found a strong link between a person’s lifestyle and his risk of developing chronic mood disorders . The study, published in Psychological Medicine , looked at how a person’s lifestyle choices affect depression, as well as how the disease impacts lifestyle. According to the authors of the study, this is the first time that association between the two factors has been looked at from both sides.
The study, led by the Menzies Institute for Medical Research of the University of Tasmania , involved 1,200 people to determine the link between unhealthy lifestyles and depression , and vice versa. They found that people who had a healthy lifestyle at the start of the study were less likely to develop initial signs of depression during the five-year study. Conversely, the researchers also found out that those with a history of depression had a tendency to let their lifestyle be negatively impacted during those times. Researchers used a five-item lifestyle score, which assessed a person’s body mass index, smoking habits, alcohol consumption, leisure time, physical activity, and diet.
Researchers found that these associations occurred regardless of other predictive factors like socio-economic position, parental and marital status, social support, significant life events, cardiovascular disease history, and self-rated physical health.
“This is the first study to consider the association between this number of health [behaviors] and risk of developing depression over time,” explained lead author Dr. Seana Gall. “Studying individual risk factors and their relationship with depression ignores the fact that risk factors often cluster as unhealthy lifestyles.”
Gall also added their findings could also help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, which is commonly seen in those suffering from depression. This could be beneficial for those managing the physical and mental health of young adults, according to the authors.
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“The study highlights the need for holistic management of young adults in terms of their mental and physical health, including health [behaviors],” she added.
Beating depression starts with a healthy lifestyle
While depression can severely affect a person’s daily activities, work, and life in general, it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to improve this condition. Here are some things you can change in your lifestyle to better cope with depression.
Start eating healthily
Being conscious of one’s diet is one of the best ways to improve his mood, especially if he has depression. Avoid processed foods and those high in refined sugar and saturated fats, and add more fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. In addition, eating fish, nuts, and whole grains can help maintain overall brain health and regulate mood.
Depression’s link to gut bacteria
The body produces its natural antidepressants during exercise. According to the Mayo Clinic , adding 30 minutes of exercise, three to five times a week, can greatly help improve depression symptoms, without the use of medication. It can also help reduce stress, improve mood, boost morale, and provide restful sleep.
Deep-breathing techniques found in meditation help calm a person’s mind and relieves his anxiety, which usually comes with the disorder. While most traditional forms of meditation focus on spiritual enlightenment, more recent practices target stress relief and relaxation.
Surround yourself with the right people
The right people can help a person dealing with depression overcome his issues with the disorder. Seek out a positive, loving, and supportive network of friends or loved ones to help you get through it. (: Use Lifestyle Remedies to Counteract Depression .)
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Find out more ways to naturally beat depression at Mind.news .