How Healthy Habits Significantly Lower Depression Risk: Study

2 months ago 82

Quincy Jon, Tech Times 11 September 2023, 03:09 pm

A comprehensive University of Cambridge study found that a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical exercise and social engagement may greatly reduce the risk of depression.

The research, conducted by Barbara Sahakian and her colleagues, examined data from over 280,000 UK adult residents. It looked into smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity, dietary choices, sleep habits, and social connections. Researchers were granted access to the participants' medical histories and conducted lifestyle surveys from 2006 to 2010, according to a NewScientist report.

Seven Healthy Habits vs. Depression Identified

A 13-year follow-up found 12,916 depression diagnoses. It found seven lifestyle factors that lowered depression risk after adjusting for age, sex, BMI, socioeconomic level, and education. These included less sedentary behavior, limited drinking, never smoking, enough sleep, exercise, healthy food, and socializing.

The quality of these lifestyle habits splits individuals into groups. People who followed five to seven of these habits had a 57% lower risk of depression than those who followed fewer than two. Socializing, exercising, and sleeping well reduced depression by 20 percent.

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The participants' brain function was also studied by the Cambridge researchers. Brain scans of a subgroup of people show that healthy living increases brain sizes in mood-affecting regions including the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. According to Sahakian, the brain scan findings suggest that lifestyle choices may directly alter brain function, explaining the link between a healthy lifestyle and depression.

Other Key Factors That Lower Depression Risk

Meanwhile, aside from the healthy habits of exercise and eating a healthy diet, a Healthline article pointed out the advantages of meditation to overcoming depression. Deep breathing exercises and mantra repetition are examples of mental exercises used in meditation that offer health advantages, including stress reduction and better sleep. Meditation may also improve sleep patterns and lessen anxiety, which is often linked to depression.

In addition, sunlight can also help reduce depression risk. WebMD says light therapy treats seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which occurs in fall and winter when sunlight is scarce. Light therapy, which includes sitting next to a box that creates fake sunshine, may be an efficient SAD cure.

Even a little sunshine may enhance mood and reduce gloom, especially for SAD sufferers. According to experts, sunlight may boost serotonin, a chemical in the body associated with well-being.

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