Recently, there has been an increase in mental illnesses (such as depression) and suicide. The challenges of the economy, absence of work-life balance, the pressure of educational commitments (financial and/or curricular), post-Covid syndromes and substance abuse are particularly more pronounced among the Gen Z and younger generation, thus contributing to the high rate of anxiety, depression and mental illnesses within that age group.
How should we reduce the incidence of depression through our habits and lifestyles? A research study conducted by researchers from Fudan University in China and the University of Cambridge in the UK and, published by Nature Mental Health, gives a clue.
The researchers first looked at the self-reported lifestyle habits of 287,282 individuals, zeroing in on seven factors: alcohol consumption, diet, physical activity, sleep, smoking, sedentary behavior, and social connection. Then, looking closely at nine years of follow-up data, they monitored which individuals went on to experience depression and noted how much each of the habits mentioned above affected that risk. Here are the findings:
1. Eating a Healthy Diet
Eating healthy diets (defined as limiting refined grains, processed meats and red meat, while consuming lots of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and fish) decreased the risk of depression by 6%.
2. Drinking Moderately
Drinking moderately (no more than one alcoholic drink per day for women and two for men) reduced the risk by 11%.
3. Spending fewer time for work, TV or computer
Spending fewer than four hours per day outside of work, watching TV or using a computer lowered the risk of depression by 13%.
4. Engaging in Physical Activity
Engaging in at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week was linked to a 14% reduction in risk.
5. Staying socially connected
Staying socially connected with friends and family reduced the risk of depression by 18%.
6. Never smoking
Never smoking was associated with a 20% decline in risk.
7. Sleeping seven to nine hours
Sleeping seven to nine hours each night on average lowered the risk of depression by 22%.
Next, analyzing genetic data for close to 200,000 individuals, they found that adopting at least five of the habits helped people who were genetically predisposed to depression, to avoid the condition.
“Participants with high genetic risk, but favorable lifestyle, had a lower risk of depression than those with intermediate or low genetic risk, but unfavorable lifestyle and those with intermediate genetic risk and intermediate lifestyle,” they wrote.
Living a happy and depression-free life is your right. It’s time to put these 7 habits to work in your lifestyle and improve your mental health.
SOURCE: Big Think