How to improve your mental health and reduce your risk of depression? A scientific study reveals three key pillars to achieve this.

Sleep, exercise, diet. These are the three aspects of daily living that help maintain good mental health and keep depression at bay, according to a new study.

Published on December 10 in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, this study was conducted among 1,111 young adults in New Zealand and the United States, aged 18 to 25 years. Participants reported on their sleep, physical activity, eating habits, and answered questions about their mental health.

Study lead author Shay-Ruby Wickham, a researcher at the University of Otago (New Zealand), said the team's first finding was on sleep: more than quantity, it is the quality of sleep that would predict the good mental health and well-being of the individual.

“It's surprising because sleep recommendations focus primarily on quantity rather than quality. Although we found that too little sleep - less than eight hours - and too much sleep - more than 12 hours - was associated with higher depressive symptoms and lower well-being, the quality of sleep far exceeded the amount of sleep to predict [a person's] mental health and well-being, ”the researcher commented.

Depressive symptoms were lowest in young adults who slept 9.7 hours per night, and feelings of well-being were highest in those who slept 8 hours per night.

On the food side, raw fruits and vegetables should be favored. The well-being measured was indeed higher among young adults who consumed an average of 4.8 servings of raw fruits and vegetables per day, compared to those consuming less than two or more than eight.

“Sleep, physical activity and a healthy diet can be considered as three pillars of health that could help promote optimal well-being in young adults, a population with high prevalence of mental disorders and well-being. be not optimal, ”commented Shay-Ruby Wickham. While most previous studies on this topic have looked at these health habits independently of each other, this new study here showed that sleep, diet, and physical activity were closely related in predicting mental health and well-being. an individual.

Source : MedicalXpress