Feeling down and don’t know what to do? You’re not alone. About one in 20 adults around the world feels the same way.
That’s what the World Health Organization tells us, and that’s a lot of people! But here’s some good news: new research says that living a healthy lifestyle can actually help you fight off those sad feelings.
Let’s dive into what the study found and how you can benefit from it.
Simple Ways to Boost Your Mood
Researchers from the University of Cambridge and Fudan University wanted to find out what makes us feel depressed and what we can do about it.
They dug deep into a massive database called the UK Biobank, which stores tons of info on people’s genes, how they live, and how healthy they are.
The team looked at data from nearly 290,000 people over nine years. About 13,000 of these folks were feeling really down. Guess what they found? Seven easy lifestyle changes can make a big difference in your mood:
- Drink alcohol but not too much
- Eat well
- Exercise regularly
- Sleep between 7-9 hours a night
- Don’t smoke
- Avoid sitting all day
- Hang out with friends and loved ones
Among these, sleep is the star player! A good night’s sleep can reduce your risk of feeling depressed by 22%. Social connection comes next, lowering the risk by 18%. So the next time you’re feeling down, maybe consider hitting the sack early or calling up a friend to hang out.
The More, The Merrier
The researchers divided people into three groups based on how many of these healthy habits they followed:
- Unfavorable lifestyle
- Intermediate lifestyle
- Favorable lifestyle
The more good habits people had, the less likely they were to feel down.
Those in the middle group were 41% less likely to be depressed compared to the folks not doing so great. And for the people living their best life? They were 57% less likely to be depressed.
It’s Not All in the Genes
Sure, some of us might be more likely to feel down because of our genes, but this study showed that lifestyle is even more crucial.
Even if you’re born with genes that make you more susceptible to depression, living a healthy life can still keep those blues at bay.
To figure out why these habits might help, the researchers also looked at brain scans and blood tests.
They found that living well makes your brain healthier and helps your body fight off stress and other things that can make you sick and sad.
In a Nutshell
The takeaway here is pretty simple: living a healthy lifestyle is good for your body and your mind. Even little changes can make a big difference in how you feel.
It’s never too early or too late to start taking better care of yourself, so why not start today? It’s a win-win situation: you’ll likely be healthier, and you’ll probably feel happier too.
If you care about health, please read studies that scientists find a core feature of depression and this metal in the brain strongly linked to depression.
For more information about health, please see recent studies about drug for mental health that may harm the brain, and results showing this therapy more effective than ketamine in treating severe depression.
The research findings can be found in Nature Mental Health.
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