One in five Australians will experience a mental illness in 2015 and researchers have found what we eat, how often we move our body and how much sunshine we get may influence the risk of depression and anxiety. Even suicide rates in children and teenagers have been linked to their lifestyle choices.
Australian tax payers spend $7.6 billion / year on mental health-related services. For many preventing and treating mental illness may not be as simple as diet and exercise but encouraging even small steps to build a healthier life are worthwhile exploring.
Convincing research suggests a diet rich in unprocessed vegetables, fruits, fish, meats, nuts and seeds will lower the chance of both depression and anxiety across all age groups from children to adults and the over 65s. For those currently suffering from depression and anxiety specific nutrient-based supplements both in isolation and in combination have been shown to be effective for some people including omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, B vitamins, s-adenosyl methionine (SAMe) and n-acetyl cysteine (NAC).
Regular physical activity has been found repeatedly to be protective against the onset of both anxiety and depression as well as effective in treatment and management for some people.
In Australia any conversation about increasing our time in the sun is tough but it is also important. Vitamin D made in our bodies from sunshine has been found to be protective against developing depression. Unfortunately Australians are the most melanoma prone people in the world yet one third of us over 25 years of age is also Vitamin D deficient. It’s time to talk about safe sun exposure!
So this World Mental Health Day, Saturday 10 October, protect yourself against mental illness by getting accurate and tailored advice from a registered naturopath and make sure you share with your doctor how you feel, what you are taking and doing – even if it is natural.
If you or someone you know is in crisis contact: Lifeline 13 11 14 (24 hour crisis hotline) Kids Help Line 1800 55 1800.
Sonia McNaughton Naturopath Medical Herbalist
Article published in InTouch Magazine
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Statistics quoted from 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing reported on Australian Institute of Health and Wellness.