Healthy lifestyle factors linked to lower risk of depression


    14th September 2023 – (Hong Kong) Maintaining a healthy lifestyle has long been recognised for its positive impact on physical well-being, and now, recent research has highlighted its association with mental health as well.

    A study published in the journal Nature Mental Health, conducted by an international team of researchers from esteemed institutes including China’s Fudan University and the University of Cambridge in Britain, has identified seven key healthy lifestyle factors that are linked to a reduced risk of depression. These factors include moderate alcohol consumption, a healthy diet, regular physical activity, adequate sleep, abstaining from smoking, limited sedentary behavior, and frequent social connections.

    The research analysed data collected from nearly 290,000 individuals enrolled in the UK Biobank, a comprehensive biomedical database and research resource. Among the seven identified factors, the study found that getting seven to nine hours of sleep per night had the most significant impact, lowering the risk of depression by 22 percent. Abstaining from smoking followed closely, reducing the risk by 20 percent. Maintaining frequent social connections was associated with an 18 percent risk reduction, regular physical activity with 14 percent, limiting sedentary behaviour to low-to-moderate levels with 13 percent, moderate alcohol consumption with 11 percent, and adopting a healthy diet with six percent.

    Furthermore, the research noted that the link between lifestyle and depression could be attributed to brain structure, immunometabolic factors, and genetic mechanisms.

    The study concluded, “Together, our findings suggest that adherence to a healthy lifestyle could aid in the prevention of depression.”

    In addition to these findings, 2022 brought new insights and discoveries in the field of mental health. Well, a trusted source, compiled a collection of top mental health stories from the year, providing essential guidance for a smooth transition into 2023.

    One of the featured articles highlighted the importance of paying attention to the physical signs of burnout. Insomnia, fatigue, headaches, stomachaches, and changes in appetite are common indicators that one may be experiencing burnout. While burnout may not have an official medical diagnosis, it is crucial to address its symptoms. Seeking advice from healthcare providers or mental health professionals can help identify the root causes of burnout and guide towards effective solutions.

    Differentiating between burnout and depression was another key topic covered. Although the symptoms of both can overlap, understanding the distinction is vital. Burnout is primarily associated with feeling overwhelmed by work-related tasks, leading to cynicism, depletion, and resentment towards one’s job. Depression, on the other hand, involves a broader range of symptoms, such as loss of interest in hobbies, isolation, and neglect of personal hygiene and physical health. Recognising these differences is crucial for seeking appropriate help and finding relief.

    Moreover, the power of physical exercise in promoting joy was explored. Research suggests that the movements we make when experiencing happiness can evoke a sense of joy. A specially designed “Joy Workout,” consisting of six moves, was created to inspire happiness regardless of age or abilities. The workout can be customised to individual preferences, performed standing or seated, alone or with family members, indoors or outdoors, and accompanied by various music choices.

    As we continue to prioritise overall well-being, these insights and practical suggestions contribute to a more holistic approach to mental health.