Self Help for Depression in Women Begins Years Earlier

Brain health involves conditions such as migraines & seizures, dementia & Parkinson’s, depression & anxiety. Self help for depression centers on good brain health.

This is certainly not the first time I’ve discussed the research as it relates to functional medicine and depression and / or anxiety.  While many may think that depression is what it is and there is little that we can do to effect it (either positively or negatively), this is far from reality.

As I have mentioned before, exercise is arguably one of the most potent brain tonics on the planet.  Unfortunately, when you’re in the throes of depression, exercise is likely the last thing you’re going to be able to pull off.  I have argued that, in this case, there are clearly lifestyle changes that can be done to improve your mood that even someone in severe depression can adopt.  These can be as simple as avoiding artificial sweeteners and diet soda, as I have covered in a recent article that can be read by clicking here.

Much like everything else when it comes to chronic disease, prevention is always infinitely easier than a cure.  Incidentally, for pancreatic cancer, prevention really is the only answer…

Well, depression is no different.  You need to adopt and maintain the optimal lifestyle to lower your risk of developing depression in the first place.  But it’s all family history and situational, isn’t it?  There’s nothing you can really do to change whether clinical depression will strike or no.

Not according to researchers in this particular study.

Here are the details that researchers put together:

  • 4215 participants in the Whitehall II Study (an ongoing study done in UK civil service employees).
  • Healthy diet scores were computed in 1991–1993 and then again in 2003–2004.
  • For the detail oriented, recurrent depressive symptoms were defined as having a Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale score ≥16 or self-reported use of antidepressants in 2003–2004 and 2008–2009.

Basically, the participants were evaluated according to accepted scales of depression or by his or her use of antidepressant medications over a period of 5 years and compared this to how healthy his or her lifestyle was.  Here are the results:

  1. Better lifestyle was related to a 59% lower risk of recurrent depressive symptoms in women, but not in men (Tweet this).
  2. Women who maintained high lifestyle scores or during the 10-y measurement period had 65% lower odds of subsequent recurrent depressive symptoms.
  3.  Women who improved their scores had a 68% lower risk of another depressive episode within the study timeframes.
  4. Specifically, vegetable, fruit, trans fat, and the ratio of polyunsaturated fat (such as olive oil and nuts) to saturated fat components were associated with recurrent depressive symptoms.

Overall, this study suggests that, at least in women, lifestyle choices (in this case exclusively dietary choices) play a very strong role in preventing depressive episodes and, even more importantly, preventing a second depressive episode.

One could argue that ANY patient who experiences depression and manages some degree of recovery

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