Less screen time, getting enough sleep, better nutrition can help prevent depression, study Edexlive says

Researchers have found that lifestyle factors such as less screen time, adequate sleep, better diet and exercise have a strong influence on depression.

With evolving data examining the link between depression and lifestyle factors, the international research team led by Western Sydney University in Australia said the findings published in the journal BMC Medicine could help inform public health policy.

A cross-sectional and longitudinal analysis of data from the British biobank involved nearly 85,000 people to see the results.

The study found a significant association between physical activity, healthy diet, and optimal sleep (7-9 hours) associated with less frequency of depressed mood.

Screen time and tobacco smoking were also significantly associated with a higher frequency of depressed mood.

Over time, the lifestyle factors protecting depressed mood in both subjects with clinical depression and those without major depressive disorder were optimal sleep (7-9 hours) and reduced screen time, while a better quality diet was indicated to protect against depressed mood in people without depression

A higher frequency of alcohol consumption was surprisingly associated with a decreased frequency of depressed mood in people with depression.

This could possibly be due to the self-medicating use of alcohol by people with depression to control their mood.

“The study is the first to assess such a wide range of lifestyle factors and their effect on depression symptoms using the large UK Biobank lifestyle and mood dataset,” said study co-author Jerome Sarris, NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University.

“While people usually know that physical activity is important for mood, we now have additional data showing that adequate sleep and less screen time are also essential to reduce depression,” added Sarris.

The findings also suggest that a person’s diet is partially involved in sprouting or worsening a depressed mood.

The results can support public health policy by further highlighting the important relationship between people who are encouraged and supported to participate in a range of health-promoting activities.

“In particular, maintaining optimal sleep and reducing screen time (which is often a problem in young people), while providing adequate physical activity and good nutritional quality, can reduce the symptoms of depression,” noted Sarris.

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