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Quitting Smoking Improves Mental Health

Depression and anxiety improves with smoking cessation.

A widely held belief among smokers is that the habit relieves psychological symptoms. However, a new meta-analysis of 26 prospective international studies challenges this assumption. After a median follow-up of 6-12 months, smoking cessation significantly decreased anxiety, depression, and stress while increasing psychological quality of life, compared with continued smoking. Cessation of smoking resulted in an effect similar to drug therapy for depression in the general population.

PositiveTip: Quitting smoking improves anxiety and depression--as well as physical health!

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Many Benefits from a Mediterranean-type Diet

Metiterranean diet pattern lowers risk of stroke, depression, and dementia.

The Mediterranean dietary pattern is one high in vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds; low in red and processed meat; and moderate in olive oil, eggs, poultry and fish. A meta-analysis of 22 studies examining this dietary pattern found high adherence was associated with a reduction in risk of stroke (29% lower), depression (32% lower) and cognitive impairment (40% lower).

PositiveTip: Increase the fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds in your diet to enjoy better health for longer.

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Diet and Depression

A healthy diet shown to help prevent depression.

A recent study from Finland has shown that a healthy diet can prevent severe depression. The study followed 2000 men for 13-20 years and found that those who ate a diet of vegetables, fruits, berries, whole-grains, poultry, fish and low-fat cheese exhibited less symptoms of depression and were at lower risk of becoming depressed later than those who ate more processed meats, manufactured food and sugary desserts and drinks.

PositiveTip: You are what you eat! Eat the best food to feel your best physically and emotionally.

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Early Obesity Increases Depression Risk

Obesity in young women raised the risk of depression in adulthood.

There as been much speculation as to whether obesity in young girls is a risk factor for depression later in life. Investigators have analyzed national data from over 5000 young women at ages 13-17 and again at ages 19-25. They found a 1.97 increase in depression risk among those who were consistently obese, and a 2.10 increase in those who became obese between the two points of the study. Stressful events did not alter these results.

PositiveTip: Parents should teach their young girls a positive and balanced attitude about weight, and provide them good examples of healthy eating and physical activity.

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Suicidal Thoughts Associated with Insominia

Long-term lack of sleep increases risk for suicide.

Researchers analyzed merged data from 471 people and found a significant increase in the risk of suicide among those who got less sleep. For each one hour increase in sleep duration there was a 72% decrease in the likelihood of moderate/high suicide risk. Apparently sleep mediates a synergy between insomnia, depression, and suicidal thoughts. (This data was presented at SLEEP 2013 and is awaiting publication.)

PositiveTip: Evidence continues to point to the value of adequate sleep. Are you getting enough?

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Depression Bites Employer's Budgets

Depression remains employer's highest per capita medical expense.

Of ten modifiable health risk factors, depression cost employer's about 48% more on healthcare than non-depressed employees. Those with high blood sugar or hypertension each cost about 31% more, and those who used tobacco or were physically inactive each cost about 16% more. Effectively implemented health promotion programs should reduce employee healthcare costs.

PositiveTip: Do something today to make a difference in your modifiable risk factors.

Intensive mobile phone use affects young people´s sleep

Young adults who make particularly heavy use of mobile phones and computers run a greater risk of sleep disturbances, stress, and mental health problems.

“Public health advice should therefore include information on the healthy use of this technology,” says researcher Sara Thomée, a doctoral student. Sara and her research colleagues at the University of Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska Academy have conducted four different studies looking at how the use of computers and mobile phones affects the mental health of young adults.

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Lifestyle Change and Depression

Exercise, diet, sunlight, and good sleep useful in treatment of depression.

A randomized, controlled study by Spanish researchers has found that lifestyle modifications significantly help depression patients taking antidepressant medications. The intervention group received specific written recommendations to walk at least 1 hour per day, get exposure to sunlight for 2 hours per day, eat a healthy diet, and suggestions for good sleep hygiene. After 6 months, this group had significantly lower observed and self-rated depression than the control group.

PositiveTip: Try these simple lifestyle changes if you are feeling blue, but don't change your medications without consulting your physician.

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Fast Foods Associated with Depression

Fast foods and baked goods may increase the risk of depression.

Could depression be linked to the consumption of baked goodies and fast food? Spanish researchers followed almost 9000 people who had never been diagnosed with depression or taken anidepressants. Over 6 years, they found that those who ate the most fast foods (hamburgers, sausages, and pizza) and processed pastries (muffins, donuts, and croissants) were 37% more likely to develop depression, compared to those who ate the least of these foods. This study was not designed to prove cause and effect, and much more research is needed on this topic.

PositiveTip: There are many good reasons to limit fast foods and baked goods in your diet--risk of depression may be another.

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Depression Risk Higher with Sleep Apnea

More men than women report snoring more than five nights a week.

Men and women with obstructive sleep apnea have a higher risk for serious depression. A nationwide survey revealed that men diagnosed with sleep apnea had 2 times the risk of depression, while women had 5 times the risk. Simple snoring did not increase the risk, but snorting or stopping breathing five or more nights per week tripled the risk for both men and women. The resulting episodic lack of oxygen to specific areas of the brain may help explain these findings.

PositiveTip: Healthy sleep is as essential as good nutrition and physical activity. Get a check-up if you are not sleeping well.