Lifestyle Factors & Mental Disorders

A systematic meta-review was published in World Psychiatry (2020) examining how physical activity, sleep, dietary patterns and tobacco smoking impact on the risk and treatment outcomes across a range of mental disorders.

The authors noted that there has been little improvement in primary prevention of mental illness while the rates of common mental disorders (i.e., depression and anxiety) appear to be increasing among the younger generations.

An emerging body of research has linked both the onset and symptoms of various mental disorders to “lifestyle factors”, a term referring to health behaviors such as physical activity, diet, tobacco smoking and sleep.

Study findings showed that there is substantial evidence from multiple meta-analyses that physical activity has a protective role in reducing risk for certain mental disorders. 

There is also a significant body of evidence that poor sleep is another key modifiable lifestyle factor which plays an important role in the onset and aggravation of mental illness.

The authors concluded that the positive mental health findings from system-wide approaches to health promotion in children and adolescents reinforces the assertion that effectively addressing multiple lifestyle factors in young people presents a promising approach towards tackling the rates of mental illness across the population.

At Prevention Plus Wellness, we believe science supports the notion that programs targeting multiple lifestyle factors, including both substance use and wellness behaviors, are a cost-effective strategy for promoting broad mental and physical health and well-being among youth and young adults.

Read the research paper: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/wps.20773

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