Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lifestyle Changes May Treat Depression as Effectively as Drugs and Counseling

From Layout Sparks wallpapers.
According to this story from Medical News Today, simple lifestyle additions like exercise, nature walks, and generosity may be just as effective as drugs and therapy for treating some mental illnesses. This information comes from a paper in the January issue of American Psychologist, the American Psychological Association's (APA) flagship journal.

The paper, authored by Dr. Roger Walsh of the University of California Irvine, reviews previous research on what he calls "therapeutic lifestyle changes" (or TLCs). Examples of TLCs include exercise, nutrition, social connection, recreation, relaxation, spiritual involvement, spending time in nature, and service to others. He says, "Lifestyle changes can offer significant therapeutic advantages for patients, therapists, and societies, yet are insufficiently appreciated, taught or utilized. In the 21st century, therapeutic lifestyles may need to be a central focus of mental, medical and public health."

Some highlights from Dr. Walsh's findings (which you may have already heard about in other contexts) include:

  • Exercise helps reduce anxiety and depression, yet also improves kids' school grades, reduces age-related memory loss, and increases neurogenesis.
  • Eating fruits, vegetables, and fish may reduce the symptoms of affective and schizophrenic disorders.
  • Altruism can give you a "helper's high" (or "giver's high") that carries numerous physical and mental benefits.
There are a lot more, so read the actual story to see them all. A lot of this stuff may be common sense, but it's nice to have it in one place. So if you or someone you know is going through depression or a similar mental illness, try some of these lifestyle changes before spending too much money on drugs or counseling. You'll always have those more conventional methods to fall back on, and it doesn't hurt to try!


  1. Oh I agree - it doesn't hurt to try and if it fails you can always try somethign else. I wonder if some TLC of other sort could be helpful too... After all, it should fall into the category of relaxation, exercise and social connection mentioned above... Humm.

  2. lol, yes, I'm sure researchers could find a lot of test subjects for that kind of study too!