- Researchers have identified seven healthy lifestyle factors that reduce the risk of depression.
- Quality sleep, regular physical activity, frequent social connections, never smoking and limited alcohol consumption were among the lifestyle factors identified.
- Researchers have reported that healthy lifestyle factors may be more important than genetic risk factors for depression.
A healthy lifestyle that includes physical activity, social connections, quality sleep and a healthy diet can reduce the risk of depression.
In it, researchers identified seven lifestyle factors they say reduce the risk of depression.
“Although our DNA – the genetic hand we’ve been given – can increase the risk of depression, we’ve shown that a healthy lifestyle is potentially more important,” he said. Barbara Sahakianco-author of the study and professor at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge in England, u statement to the media.
“Some of these lifestyle factors are things that we have some degree of control over, so trying to find ways to improve them – getting good sleep and going out with friends, for example – could really change people’s lives,” she added.
The researchers listed these seven lifestyle factors that reduce the risk of depression:
- Healthy diet
- Regular physical activity
- Never smoke
- Limiting alcohol consumption to moderate amounts
- Have frequent social connections
- Getting adequate sleep
- Keeping sedentary behavior to a minimum
Researchers examined data from nearly 290,000 people in the UK Biobank in a period of nine years. Of these, 13,000 experienced depression.
The data included information on genetics, health and lifestyle.
The researchers grouped the participants into three categories based on how many of the identified healthy lifestyle factors a person adheres to. The categories are unfavorable, medium and favorable.
The researchers reported that people in the middle group were 41% less likely to develop depression compared to those in the disadvantaged group. That more favorable group was 57% less likely to develop depression.
A number of factors can affect a person’s risk of developing it depression.
Environmental, biological, genetic and psychological factors are believed to play a role.
In order to determine the relationship between lifestyle factors, genetic risk and developing depression, the researchers assigned each participant a genetic risk score.
To determine this result, the subjects took into account genetic variants known to be associated with the risk of depression.
They found that for participants with high, medium and low genetic risk for depression, following a healthy lifestyle reduced their risk of depression.
Carla Marie ManlyPh.D., a clinical psychologist from California, says the study’s findings are not surprising.
“Our not-so-distant ancestors had a lifestyle that included regular physical activity, little sedentary behavior, abundant social interaction, healthy childand often low to moderate alcohol consumption,” she said Medical news today. “Even smoking is a relatively modern phenomenon. It makes sense that the activities that allowed humans to survive over time were necessary for our overall well-being. As such, it’s no surprise when research continues to reveal that our deviation from the healthy lifestyles adopted by our ancestors will work against our overall health.”
“While we cannot change our genetic risk factors, we can adopt a healthy lifestyle to reduce the impact and expression of any negative genetic factors,” added Manly. “When we use our personal agency to make healthy lifestyle decisions, we affect our well-being in a positive way. On both a cognitive and an emotional level, when we make healthy decisions, we strengthen our sense of personal power. And on a physical level, we increase the feeling of positivity and empowerment when our body feels good. Through this cycle of positive reinforcement, healthy lifestyle choices can significantly impact mental health issues such as depression.”
Of all the healthy lifestyle factors identified, the researchers concluded that sleep was the most important factor.
They said that sleeping between seven and nine hours a night reduced the risk of depression, even treatment-resistant depression, by 22%.
“When we go to sleep, our brain begins to work performing critical functions that affect cognition and memory. When we sleep, our body removes toxins, such as beta amyloid, which is involved in cognitive decline and degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Inadequate sleep can actually lead to challenges with coping and managing emotions, which increases the risk of future depression,” Shannel Kassis Elhelousaid PsyD, associate professor of geropsychology and neuropsychology at the Pacific Neuroscience Institute’s Brain Wellness and Lifestyle Programs in California Medical news today.
“But this might also leave us with the question of what comes first? Is depression the first thing that affects your sleep? Or does sleep affect our depression? Because if you’re dealing with depression, everyday causes of stress, such as work-related stress, familiar problems, or other common things people tend to worry about, can result in more frequent trouble falling and sleeping, especially compared to those who don’t experience the same stressors,” Elhelou said.
A healthy diet was found to reduce the risk of depression by 6%, moderate alcohol consumption by 11%, regular physical activity by 14%, low to moderate sedentary behavior by 13%, and never smoking by 20%.
Frequent social connections have been found to be the greatest protective factor against recurrent depressive disorder. It reduced the overall risk of depression by 18%.
Karen OsillaPh.D., an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University in California, says that not engaging in these healthy behaviors can make feelings of depression worse.
“Not addressing these factors prolongs depressed mood – when we don’t connect socially with people we usually laugh with, when we don’t have healthy sleep habits, it’s a snowball effect and it becomes easier to believe our depressed thoughts of worthlessness and feeling ‘less than,'” she said. is Medical news today.
“When we think ‘I’m not good at anything or I can never rest,’ people suffering from depression have a hard time distinguishing between thoughts and facts,” she explained. “IN cognitive behavioral therapy I am focused on restructuring those maladaptive thoughts so that people can begin to restructure their way of thinking – our thoughts do not define us. Depression is highly treatable, it’s one of the most common mental health conditions that has several treatments with a solid background – self-help books, mindfulness, medication, activity scheduling, cyclical breathing and therapy are all options depending on the level of care one wants to pursue.”