Monday, 26 January 2015

Research News: Good news about MS & Depression

So there I was last week complaining that the boffins weren't connecting the dots - between MS and depression - and all the while there was the latest paper from the HOLISM Study sitting in my inbox, and it's looking into exactly that! 
It's a very useful paper, especially for those of us living with MS, and as you might imagine, it contains both good news and bad news.

The bad news is that people with MS are considerably more likely than the general population to experience depression. We also have higher risk than people with other chronic conditions. But if you have MS, you probably knew that already... 

The good news is that there are things we can do - or "modifiable lifestyle factors" as the study calls them - that can make a significant difference! OK, you probably guessed that too, but doesn't it seem more solid now we know there is peer-reviewed scientific evidence to prove it?

Don't Do This

The study found that certain lifestyle factors are associated with increased risk of depression in people with MS. These are:

  • Poor diet
  • Little exercise
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Social isolation
  • Taking interferon

I imagine these would increase anyone's risk of depression, come to think of it! 
I must admit to cringing a little as I read this, as I know that I get nothing like as much exercise as I could! 

Do This

The study's recommendations make much cheerier reading. The researchers point out that making the following changes will reduce our risk of depression:

  • Healthy diet including some fish
  • Supplementing with daily Omega 3 oil
  • Supplementing with vitamin D3
  • Regular exercise
  • Regular meditation
  • Social support 
  • Stopping smoking

Of all these factors, it was perhaps meditation that showed the greatest risk reduction for depression. The study found that people with MS who meditated at least once a week halved their odds of getting depression. That's pretty encouraging stuff in my book!

Anyone following the 
OMS Recovery Programme will already be doing most if not all of these, and of course there is detailed discussion of some of the evidence supporting these measures in Prof Jelinek's book. In the coming weeks I'll be posting more information about each one in turn, so watch this space!

To read the full paper - free of charge - go to the BMC here.

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