Not smoking and living a healthy life with moderate alcohol consumption, a healthy diet, regular physical activity, restful sleep and frequent social relationships can prevent depression, says a study published Monday in Nature Mental Health.
According to the World Health Organization, one in 20 adults suffers from depression, which represents a significant public health burden worldwide.
The study, led by scientists from the University of Cambridge (UK) and Fudan (China), analyzed the connection between lifestyle, genetics, brain structure, immune and metabolic systems and depression.
To do this, they used information from the United Kingdom Biobank, a huge genetic database of half a million people between the ages of 40 and 69 with open access for scientific research.
Study of almost a decade
After studying data from nearly 290,000 people – 13,000 with depression – over nine years, they identified seven healthy lifestyle factors that are linked to a lower risk of depression: moderate alcohol consumption, healthy diet, regular physical activity, healthy sleep, never smoking , little to…moderate, sedentary lifestyle and frequent social relationships.
Of all, good sleep – between seven and nine hours a day – was the most important factor, reducing the risk of depression by 22%, followed by no smoking (20%) and frequent social relationships (18%). Which are the ones that are most protective against recurrent depressive disorders?
In addition, regular physical activity reduces the risk of depression by 14%, a low or moderate sedentary lifestyle by 13%, moderate alcohol consumption by 11% and a healthy diet by 6%.
Depending on the number of healthy lifestyle factors a person met, the team assigned them to one of three groups: unfavorable, moderate and favorable lifestyles.
The middle group was about 41% less likely to have depression than those in the adverse lifestyle group, and those in the favorable lifestyle group were 57% less likely.
Other risk factors
The team also examined the participants’ DNA and found that people with the lowest genetic risk score had a 25% lower risk of developing depression than those with the highest score.
However, the study highlights the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle to prevent depression, regardless of genetic risk.
To understand why a healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk of depression, the team examined other factors.
They first examined brain MRIs from nearly 33,000 participants and discovered a number of brain regions where greater volume – more neurons and connections – was associated with a healthy lifestyle.
They then looked for markers in the blood that indicate problems with the immune system or metabolism, such as C-reactive protein, a molecule the body produces in response to stress, and triglycerides, one of the main forms of fat the body uses . to store energy.