Modern Life Is Making Us Depressed
Last updated:November 04, 2011
The more we have, the more depressed we seem to be, social scientists say. That's because depression is a modern "disease of affluence," writes alternative-health guru Andrew Weil in an excerpt from his new book Spontaneous Happiness, in the current Newsweek.
His explanation: The human body was never designed for the postindustrial world, where we sit a lot, indoors and isolated from others, consuming too much processed food and too much stress-inducing electronic stimulation -- all conditions strongly associated with depression. Lifestyle interventions like exercise, better sleep, a diet rich in omega 3s, and more socialization help combat depression, Weil says -- "correcting the mismatch between our modern world and our ancient brains and bodies."
It's all the more worth doing, because, according to a new study, happiness is strongly linked to longevity. CNN reports that researchers at Kings College, London tracked 3,800 people ages 52 to 79 for five years; those who reported feeling more happy, content, and excited were up to 35 percent less likely to die during that time period -- even after chronic health problems, financial matters, and depression were factored out. Areas of the brain affected by positive emotions tend to be associated with blood vessel function and inflammation.