Worldwide over 260 million people suffer from anxiety and over 300 million people suffer from depression. There has been a significant increase in the number of antidepressants prescribed worldwide and waiting lists to access psychological services are getting longer. Medication and psychological therapies such as counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) are important aspects of the treatment of anxiety and depression. However, there are other lifestyle medicine factors that may need addressing and that can also have a significant impact on your mental health. 

Finances and mental health

A study in 2013 found that having debt triples your risk of depression and anxiety. In China, a study has shown that having unmanageable debt is linked with suicide. An interesting discovery is that whether a debt is considered unmanageable depends on the individual person. Therefore, adding in some teaching on finances and increasing a person’s skills in money management may be beneficial as well as using CBT to lessen the perceived burden of debt. 

Time in Nature

In New Zealand there was found to be a 4% decrease in mood disorder or anxiety prescriptions for every 1% increase in green space near a person’s home. It has also been found that when a person exercises in the woods they have a 50% decrease in their risk of poor mental health compared to someone who exercises in a built-up area. Being in nature promotes relaxation, an increase in exercise activity, can help reduce mental fatigue and has been shown to decrease a person’s blood pressure and heart rate. It can also increase connections with friends, family and the community as often people socialise when in nature.

Owning a Pet

In 1938, Harvard began a study to research Adult Development. During this study, they found that for some people the support offered by pets was equal to that given by parents or siblings. Only a best friend offered more support than a person’s pet. In England, it has been found that owning a pet produces significant increases in Mental Health compared to someone without a pet. Owning a pet can also lower blood pressure and can increase a person’s response to medication.

Consumer Culture

Modern western society has seen a significant increase in the importance of owning material possessions and the resulting rise in status this creates. However, research shows that as this materialistic focus increases, life satisfaction significantly decreases. You start to feel low and feel like a failure. Having a daily gratitude practice will help to shift the spotlight from what you don’t have to what you do have. You will start to intentionally look for all the good things you have in your life and your mood lightens and you will feel happier. 

Impact of Phones and Social Media on depression & anxiety

This is not necessarily about how often or how long you are using your phone. It is about what you are actually doing on your phone. Activities that involve scrolling and involve you being a passive bystander have been associated with depression. People with lower rates of anxiety and depression tend to not take part in as much passive use and have a lot more social interactions and therefore meaningful connections. These connections can be a substantial source of support. 


In summary, lifestyle medicine offers a unique and effective approach to managing anxiety and depression. By focusing on natural and accessible solutions like financial management, nature exposure, pet ownership, consumer culture mindfulness, and wise use of technology, individuals can find sustainable ways to improve their mental health. Stay tuned for our upcoming detailed discussions on each of these vital areas. 


Piotrowski M, Lunsford J, Gaynes B. Lifestyle psychiatry for depression and anxiety: Beyond diet and exercise. Lifestyle Medicine Journal. 2021; 2: e21

Mental Health Foundation: Physical Activity and Mental Health

Thanks for Reading!

If you enjoyed reading this article, please check out our other Blogs

lifestyle medicine
Anxiety & depression

You May Also Like

What Is Good Emotional Health

What Is Good Emotional Health

What Is Good Emotional Health / Well-Being Good Emotional health / Well-Being is crucial to living a productive,...


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *