5 surprising things that can affect our mental health

4 April 2017

Depression, anxiety and mental illness is a battle for many Australians every day. Read about our research into the positive mental health effects of diet, mindfulness, and pet ownership.

On Friday 7 April, it is World Health Day, a global health awareness day initiated by the World Health Organization (WHO). World Health Day, which also marks the anniversary of the founding of the WHO, is aimed at addressing a specific topic of concern for people all around the world. This year, the spotlight is on depression.

Depression is linked to several mental health illnesses, including anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, substance abuse and addiction. In Australia alone, it is estimated that 45 percent of people will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Reducing the stigma associated with depression, anxiety and other mental health illnesses has become a national health priority in Australia, as Professor Ian Hickie from the University's Brain and Mind Centre argued in an opinion piece last year. Better understanding and further education of what depression is, how it can be prevented and treated, and how it’s linked to our health and other mental health illnesses will help reduce this stigma and lead to more people seeking help.

To support World Health Day, here are 5 surprising discoveries research at the University of Sydney has found that can affect our overall mental health.

anxiety depression worry

1. Natural brain opioids: a new anxiety treatment? 

A University of Sydney study published in the prestigious journal, Nature Communications, suggests boosting natural brain opioids may be a better way to treat disabling emotions. The research investigated the role of brain opioids in regulating critical brain circuits affecting fear and anxiety.

Read the full article here.

vegetables health diet weight loss stress depression

2. Veggies each day keep the stress blues away

Eating three to four serves of vegetables daily is associated with a lower incidence of psychological stress, research by University of Sydney scholars revealed.

Read the full article here.

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3. Fear, anxiety can drive firms to the wall

Professor Wai Fong Chua of the University of Sydney Business School explored how ambitious corporate incentive schemes and performance goals can cause anxiety among employees, consequentially having a negative impact on productivity.

Read the full article here.

4. Mindfulness practices at work improves mental well-being

Work and Organisational studies researcher, Dr Helena Nguyen, has encouraged workplaces to implement what she calls mindfulness practices to improve mental wellbeing and overall workplace satisfaction.

Read the full article here.

dog puppy wellbeing mindfulness depression anxiety

5. Is your dog happy?

Dogs are well known to improve their owners sense of happiness and wellbeing, but what about the dogs themselves? Dr Melissa Starling, from the Faculty of Veterinary Science has found that dogs’ moods are not as easy to read as you might think.

Read the full article here.

Dan Gaffney

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