"People who reported a higher number of sad, blue or depressed days also reported engaging in unhealthy behaviours such as cigarette smoking and physical inactivity," write the authors of the study.
"Although most people who report depressive symptoms several days each month probably do not have a diagnosable mental disorder, those above a certain threshold of sad, blue or depressed days might be at increased risk for mental and physical illnesses," they say.
Rosemarie Kobau and her colleagues from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta analysed 166,000 responses to the question "During the past 30 days, for about how many days have you felt sad, blue, or depressed?" that was asked in an annual telephone survey of the American adult population in 38 states.
Women reported more days with depressive symptoms than men (3.5 days compared to 2.4 days). Young adults aged 18-24 years reported the highest number of days with depressive symptoms. People who exercised had 1.3 fewer days with depressive symptoms compared to those who did not exercise, and those who never smoked cigarettes had 2.4 fewer days of depressive symptoms compared to those who smoked more than 1 pack of cigarettes a day.
More education or a higher household income tended to reduce depressive symptoms. College graduates and those with household incomes over US$50,000 experienced two sad, blue, or depressed days out of every thirty, compared with almost five days for those without a high school education and 6.1 days for those with household incomes of less than US$15,000
People who said they were unable to work experienced the highest number of "sad, blue or depressed days" (10.2 days).
The researchers concluded that, "findings from this study highlight the relationship between feeling sad, blue or depressed and engaging in behaviours risky to health."
They stress that," Interventions that focus on positive emotions associated with healthful behaviour and instill confidence in adopting health-promoting behaviour might be effective for individuals with depressive symptoms. Use of this measure along with other community health indicators can help to assess the burden of mental distress in populations and monitor changes in levels of mental distress over time."
This press release is based on the following article:
Sad, blue, or depressed days, health behaviours and health-related quality of life, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 1995-2000 Rosemarie Kobau, Marc A Safran, Matthew M Zack, David G Moriarty, Daniel Chapman Health and Quality of Life Outcome 2004, 2:40
Upon publication this article will be available free of charge according to Health and Quality of Life Outcome's Open Access policy at: http://www.hqlo.com/content/2/1/40
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