The middle of winter can be the worst time of the year for people suffering from depression. Shorter days and lack of sun exposure can lead to seasonal affective disorder.
It’s one of the leading causes of mood disorders.
But a new study suggests a simple, drug-free solution to the winter blues—one that will make not only you happier, but Hollywood as well…
Researchers from University College London analyzed data from 2,000 subjects. All the participants were over 50.
The study looked at mood changes in the subjects over 10 years. It also tracked their recreational habits.[i]
Researchers found that participants who went to a movie or another cultural event at least once a month cut their risk of depression by 48%.
Dr. Daisy Fancourt was the study’s lead author. She believes there are several reasons “cultural participation” helps ward off depression. For one thing, it “gets people out of the house,” she said. It “encourages physical activity, which is protective against depression.”[ii]
This type of activity reduces “social isolation and loneliness,” said Dr. Fancourt. “Engaging with the arts is stress-reducing, associated with lower stress hormones such as cortisol, and also lower inflammation, which itself is associated with depression.”
Furthermore, Dr. Fancourt observes, attending movies and other events increases the release of dopamine. It’s a neurotransmitter that helps us feel positive about life.
She believes it does more than protect you from depression. Lower risk of dementia, chronic pain, and premature death are likely as well.
In the same way that doctors recommend a proper diet, Dr. Fancourt thinks regularly scheduled engagement with the arts should be part of a regimen to support healthy aging.
Let Tom Hanks Help You Beat Depression
To boost your mood, use the findings from the study …
- See a movie, go to a concert, attend a museum. But do so with another person. Watching a movie at home alone is not a good substitute. Part of the benefit lies in interacting with other people.
- Make it a regular thing. The anti-depression effect of getting out is “dose dependent.” In other words, the more you do it, the better it is for you.
- Choose something that stimulates thinking. To improve your brain, you need to engage it. Thought-provoking movies, museum visits, concerts, and plays are more beneficial than mindless entertainment. Afterward, discuss the activity with the person you went with.
The bottom line?
out of your home, socializing with others, and engaging in intellectually
stimulating art forms are strongly conducive to good mental health. Anybody up
for a good movie?