Can A Walk In The Park Cure Depression?: Ecotherapy Vs. Antidepressants
Imagine going to the psychiatrist and walking out with a prescription for a few weeks of farm work. This happens to residents of European countries such as Holland where 600 "care farms" are integrated into the health system for this very purpose--and it seems to work.
While we've long advocated the mental health benefits of exercise, Mind, a British mental health charity, has released findings on two studies that show being outdoors while performing physical activity can greatly increase its benefits.
In the first study, 108 people who regularly participated in outdoor activities such as gardening, walking and conservation work were surveyed. Ninety-four percent reported that these activities had a positive affect on their mental health and 90 percent believed it was the combination of physical activity and being outdoors that helped them most.
The second study put this belief in the importance of environment to the test, sending half of the participants for a 30 minute walk in a nature reserve or a shopping mall. The most striking effects of this study were seen on self-esteem: 90 percent of nature-walkers reported a boost after their walk, while 44 percent of mall-walkers reported a decrease in feelings of self-esteem. Meanwhile, feelings of anger, tension and depression were reduced in those who had walked outdoors, but increased in those who had walked the mall.
This research comes in response to news that antidepressant prescriptions in Britain had increased six percent to an all-time high of almost 32 million, with most doctors reporting they they feel they have no other options.
It's important to note that the two studies were commissioned by Mind and involved its members. However, much prior research has shown that both exercise and getting involved with nature, be it by getting more sunlight, getting a pet or swimming with dolphins may ease symptoms of mild to moderate depression.
REPORT: Ecotherapy -- the green agenda for mental health
Posted In: Depression Research |
Posted by FindCounseling.com Staff on May 14, 2007 at 10:34 AM | Permalink
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