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October 16, 2023 • Brain Health, Healthy Eating & Nutrition

Slash Depression Risk with a Healthy Lifestyle

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A healthy lifestyle offers enormous protection against depression. That was the uplifting conclusion of a powerful new study from scientists at Cambridge University. 

What’s more, there are seven specific lifestyle habits that we can leverage to mitigate our chances of depression. 

For this study scientists analyzed the genes, the lifestyles, the brain structure, and the health status of nearly 290,000 UK adults over a nine-year period. During this time, 13,000 of the study subjects were diagnosed with depression. 

After analyzing all the data, the scientists identified seven lifestyle habits that can cut our risk of depression.  

What are they and how do they rank? A good night’s sleep proved to be the most powerful habit, offering a 22 percent reduction in depression risk. The other factors shook out as follows:

  • Avoiding tobacco – 20 percent reduction
  • Frequent social interactions – 18 percent reduction
  • Regular physical activity – 14 percent reduction
  • Less sedentary time (less sitting) – 13 percent reduction
  • Limiting alcohol – 11 percent reduction
  • A healthy diet – 6 percent reduction

All these habits have direct benefits to brain structure and function, but also favorably modulate immune function and metabolism, both vital for good mental health. 

Although genes can predispose individuals to depression, this new study points to lifestyle as the more important influence.