Researchers examine the relationship between healthy lifestyle habits and mood disorders in younger people

An international team of researchers has found a strong link between healthy lifestyles and depression. In the study, which appeared in the journal Psychological Medicine, the authors investigated bi-directional associations between the two factors by following a cohort group for five years.

  • While studies are available that establish the inverse correlation between healthy lifestyles and cardiovascular disease, as well as its relation to mental health, studies designed using a longitudinal survey between these factors are limited.
  • For the study, the researchers involved participants aged between 26–36 at baseline (2004–2006) and 31–41 at follow-up (2009–2011).
  • During the follow-up period, the participants were retrospectively evaluated for lifetime mood disorders like depression or dysthymia using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview, together with a five-item lifestyle score, which looked at body mass index, smoking habits, alcohol consumption, leisure time and physical activity, and healthy diet, respectively.
  • To determine whether mood disorders prior to baseline resulted in any lifestyle changes, researchers used a combination of linear and log multinomial regression, while log-binomial regression determined whether lifestyle during baseline contributed to mood disorder episodes afterward.
  • Covariates of the study included the age, sex, and socio-economic status of the participants; any social support they have or major life events; and cardiovascular disease history and self-rated physical and mental health.
  • The findings revealed that participants who had mood disorders before baseline, coupled with a poor lifestyle, led to a lower likelihood of improvement and a higher risk of worsening symptoms. Conversely, those with higher scores at baseline had a reduced risk of having initial episodes of a mood disorder, despite the confounding factors.

Based on the findings, the researchers concluded that a healthy lifestyle will not only reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, but also improve a person’s mental health.

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Journal Reference:

Gall SL, Sanderson K, Smith KJ, Patton G, Dwyer T, Venn A. BI-DIRECTIONAL ASSOCIATIONS BETWEEN HEALTHY LIFESTYLES AND MOOD DISORDERS IN YOUNG ADULTS: THE CHILDHOOD DETERMINANTS OF ADULT HEALTH STUDY. Psychological Medicine. September 2016;46(12):2535–2548. DOI: 10.1017/S0033291716000738

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