Depression is an awful feeling. However, those who are depressed, it’s important to know you’re not alone. If you’re feeling depressed and under pressure, you are not alone. Almost 20 per cent of the UK’s adult population experience depression or anxiety, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The research also found that more women report that they suffer from the conditions than men. With overthinking and major life events, such as family bereavement, leading to depression; anyone can be at risk of the illness. However, certain genetic variations may make some more prone to the condition than others.
For some, a prescription of anti-depressants can help cope with the effects of depression as they act as a ‘mood enhancer’, but unfortunately they don’t work for everyone. However, gardening is said to be a good way to battle depression, with reports suggesting 87% of people who undergo tasks in the garden for more than six hours per week feel happier. But why and how is this the case?
If you suffer from depression, you may find yourself drained of confidence. Gardening as a family can be a great way in which to socialise within your comfort zone. Most kids love the garden — and spending time with you — so by creating fun tasks to improve your garden, they will instinctively have fun which will help lift your spirits. Certain friendly bacteria that is found in soil can also work in a similar way to anti-depressants by boosting the immune system, according to scientists.
Growing your own produce is believed to help you reconnect with our planet, its seasons and rhythms, so why not think about planting some vegetable seeds? Tending to your crops will provide enough light exercise — at your own pace — to boost your endorphin levels. With one of the primary causes of depression being a sense of feeling out of control, growing your own fruit and veg can help give back some of that power. It’s also thought that folate-rich foods, such as kale and spinach, can help lift your morale. So, what better way to boost yourself than growing it yourself?
By growing your own crops, the ‘pleasure chemical’ dopamine as also released into the brain, triggering a state of bliss. This release can be caused by sight, smell and actually plucking fruit, so be sure to plant as many different edible options as possible and get that dopamine flowing!
Gardening is a not-too-strenuous way to keep your mind and body busy. Tasks such as digging, mowing and planting can keep you occupied for hours on end and always thinking, while being outdoors can increase serotonin in the brain. On top of this, the relaxing ambience provided by being outside can leave you feeling rejuvenated.
Dr Sheri Jacobson, a psychotherapist and clinical director from Harley Therapy, agreed with the benefits that being outside hold in combating depression. She is quoted in Huffington Post saying: “While I haven’t come across anyone claiming that gardening has single-handedly overcome their depression, as part of a wide set of tools, gardening can be beneficial in the battle against depression.
“Being in the outdoors in more natural surroundings can help lift our mood as it brings a sense of simplicity and tranquillity which is therapeutic for many people.”
In Japan, scientists believe that inhaling various scents that are released by plants such as lavender can alter gene activity. This can help to reduce any stress or depression you may be feeling. Aromatherapy, for example, is used as a form of alternative medicine and relies on scents such as this. Other plants that are recommended for your garden include jasmine — its fragrance is supposed to help you sleep — and rosemary, which is said to improve air quality, memory function and banish anxiety.
While some may find it a struggle to get up and partake in gardening, there are so many potential benefits, making it worth trying to get into this hobby. Remember though, you are not alone in your struggle, so be sure to talk to professionals and those closest to you if you are depressed. There are many people out there to discuss your feelings with.