In a new study, researchers found that lifestyle factors such as less screen time, adequate sleep, a better-quality diet, and physical activity strongly impact depression.
Among the factors, less screen time and more sleep are critical for preventing depression.
They did an analysis of data from the UK Biobank, involving almost 85,000 people
The research was conducted by a team at Western Sydney University
In the study, the team found physical activity, a healthy diet, and optimal sleep (7-9 hours) were linked to less frequency of depressed mood.
Screen time and tobacco smoking were also strongly associated with the higher frequency of depressed mood.
Over time, the lifestyle factors which were protective of depressed mood were optimal sleep (7-9 hours) and lower screen time, while a better-quality diet was indicated to be protective of depressed mood in those without depression.
A higher frequency of alcohol drinking was surprisingly linked to reduced frequency of depressed mood in people with depression.
This may potentially be due to the self-medicating use of alcohol by those with depression to manage their mood.
The research is the first assessment of such a broad range of lifestyle factors and its effect on depression symptoms using the large UK Biobank lifestyle and mood dataset.
The findings also suggest that one’s dietary pattern is partly implicated in the germination or exacerbation of depressed mood.
“The results may inform public health policy. In particular, maintaining optimal sleep and lessening screen time (which is often an issue in youth), while having adequate physical activity and good dietary quality, may reduce the symptoms of depression.
The authors’ research also supports the use of personalized, combined lifestyle interventions to help manage mood and promote physical wellness.
This is in alignment with their recent World Psychiatry paper, led by senior author Dr. Joseph
One author of the study is Professor Jerome Sarris, NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University.
The study is published in BMC Medicine.
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