Posted on Mon, 28 Jun 10
Eating well, regular exercise and stress reduction can treat depression a new study suggests, in fact within 3 months 73% of those with depression were no longer depressed.
Lifestyle behaviours including physical activity, dietary habits and stress reducing activities are well known to be related to depression and mood. Importantly these same behaviours are also related to the development of many other chronic lifestyle related diseases including diabetes, obesity, certain cancers and heart disease.
Time for change
To ascertain whether people with depression, and established heart disease or diabetes, could make necessary lifestyle changes and reverse their illness a group of men and women were counselled on healthy lifestyle behaviours over three months.
During the treatment the participants attended a supervised lifestyle programme twice a week where they were encouraged to eat a low-fat plant-based diet, engage in aerobic and resistance exercise for 3 hours a week, practice stress management for 1 hour each day and attend support group sessions for 2 hours each week.
Mental and physical transformation
Over the three months all participants made the required changes to their diet and lifestyle and those who made greater changes were more likely to improve their health. It was found that 73% of people whose symptoms suggested clinical depression before treatment were no longer depressed.
In addition to relief from depression there was also evidence of an improvement in psychological well-being with less hostility and perceived stress and improved quality of life. Heart disease and diabetes measures also improved.
A higher state of health
This study demonstrates that comprehensive lifestyle change is an effective and safe approach to the treatment of depression. Importantly all participants made the necessary changes dispelling the presupposition that lifestyle change may be too difficult, in fact those with worse health wore more likely to change. Compared to antidepressant medication, lifestyle change may not only improve depression but elevate people to a higher state of physical and psychological wellbeing.
Pischke CR, Frenda S, Ornish D, Weidner G. Lifestyle changes are related to reductions in depression in persons with elevated coronary risk factors. Psychol Health. 2010 Jun 7:1-24. [Epub ahead of print]