A lot of young people aspire to break intergenerational trauma.
But what does it really take?
If you’re one of these young people, you’re in luck: in this article, we’ll discuss how you can actually break the cycle by changing your lifestyle!
Read on to learn how a healthy maternal lifestyle can prevent depressive symptoms on your future children.
How a healthy maternal lifestyle prevents depressive symptoms
In a study by Wang et. al., in November 2022, it was found that mothers who had a healthy lifestyle had children with little to no depressive symptoms.
Here’s what’s interesting: this association was only found in female offspring.
This suggests that a healthy maternal lifestyle does not significantly affect the mental health, specifically the depressive symptoms, of male children.
However, what was not discussed in the study is how this might also be because women are twice more likely to develop depression than men.
In the study, a healthy lifestyle was defined as having a healthy diet, a normal body mass index (BMI), never smoking, little to no consumption of alcohol, and regular moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.
A total of 10,368 mothers and 13,478 offspring were studied, with the age of the latter ranging from 13 to 40 at the beginning of the study.
The depressive symptoms of offsprings were measured and assessed five times using the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale-10 (CESD-10).
Knowing all of these, why is it important to prevent depression?
What is depression?
Depression is defined as a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness, loneliness, or hopelessness.
In total, it affects 3.8% (around 300 million) of the global population.
Symptoms of depression include:
- Feeling down or hopeless
- Having a lack of motivation to do anything
- Losing interest in the things you used to love doing (also known as anhedonia)
- Feeling worthless
- Suicidal thoughts or suicidal ideation
Depression has two types, which is commonly called depression and dysthymia.
Depression vs Dysthymia
Major depressive disorder (MDD) and persistent depressive disorder (PDD), also known as dysthymia are the two types of depression.
What’s the difference?
The key difference between MDD and PDD is the duration of symptoms.
PDD, from the word “persistent” itself, must last 2 years before it can be diagnosed as PDD. Because of its less intense symptoms, it can also be referred to as “high-functioning depression.”
On the other hand, MDD is what we usually refer to when we talk about depression. It lasts for at least two months and is generally more intense than PDD.
Does this mean that MDD is more serious than PDD?
MDD and PDD are both serious mental illnesses that need professional attention.
PDD might be less intense than MDD, but it lasts longer, and this long duration means it drastically affects the lives of the people suffering from it.
It is called high-functioning depression because its long duration makes the person resilient to their depressive symptoms.
Moreover, the gravity of both of these types of depression can’t be measured on intensity alone.
All mental illnesses deserve the same amount of understanding and importance.
Similarly, everyone suffering from mental illnesses deserves to get the help that they need.
Why depression awareness is important
Depression is more than just a feeling of sadness or feeling the blues on a certain day.
Because it affects hundreds of millions of people, you probably know someone who’s suffering from depression. Maybe you’re even one of them.
If you’ve been through depression, you know that one can’t simply “snap out of it.”
This is because it is a medical condition that affects the brain and needs professional attention and medication.
As a person who’s been through depression, here are some things that you should never tell a depressed person:
- “Just think positive!”
- “Stop being sad.”
- “Look at the bright side of things!”
And my personal favorite:
“Maybe you need to pray more/maybe you need to go to church!”
Why should you never tell any of these to a depressed person?
Well, because it doesn’t really help. In fact, it can only make things worse.
It is important to understand that depression isn’t as simple as a feeling of sadness that a person can easily snap out of, because at its worst, it can cause people to end their lives.
Rather than telling a depressed person to “just stop being sad,” listening to their problems and being there for them when they need you is a lot better.
Offering comfort to a depressed person through these will actually help ease their suffering.
How to have a healthier lifestyle
We already know that a healthy lifestyle can significantly decrease depressive symptoms in female children.
Now, if you plan on starting a family later on in life, it might be important for you to know how to have a healthy lifestyle.
So how do you turn your lifestyle into a healthy one?
These are the following tips that can help you transition into a healthier lifestyle.
1) Drink water often
Drinking water often is probably the easiest tip on this list.
The human body is made up of 60% water, so it is important for us to drink enough water in order to function properly every day.
Personally, I’ve learned to drink more water over the years by keeping a bottle of water near me at all times.
Whether I’m just working on my desk or traveling somewhere, I make sure to keep a bottle of water by my side.
This helped me reduce bloating both on my face and body. It also helped me function better daily, in general.
So if you’re looking to be healthier, drinking more water is probably the easiest step you could take!
2) Exercise regularly
I know exercising can often be intimidating and maybe even scary, but you don’t have to do vigorous exercise in order to be healthy.
Even a brisk 10-minute walk can actually have a lot of health benefits!
When you go on a walk, make sure you wear comfortable shoes, bring a bottle of water, and choose a safe route.
You can even listen to music to make the walk a little more enjoyable.
Downloading an app that keeps track of your heart rate and your number of steps can also be helpful.
If walking is not for you, you can also try these easy, low-impact exercises.
These exercises are for people of all ages. Even if you have a bad knee, a bad hip, or a tired body, they’re still so easy to do!
What you should take away from this is that you don’t need to do intense exercises to be healthy.
Doing simple, easy exercises are enough for you to be healthy.
3) Avoid smoking and drinking
I know I don’t have to tell you that smoking and drinking is bad for your health—you probably already know this.
So if you’d like to have a healthy lifestyle, avoiding smoking (including vaping) and drinking is very important.
However, it can be hard to quit when it’s become habitual.
In that sense, it might be more helpful not to immediately go cold turkey. Going on a support program might be of more help to you.
If you find that smoking or drinking has become an addiction, do not beat yourself up if you can’t immediately quit.
In fact, a lot of people have trouble quitting smoking and drinking.
Acknowledge that curing addiction is a process that can’t be done overnight, so it’s okay if you can’t immediately quit.
4) Get enough sleep
If you want to have a healthy lifestyle, getting enough sleep is essential.
However, the necessary amount of sleep can be different for everyone. Younger people, in general, need more sleep.
Personally, in order to function well everyday, I need at least 10 hours of sleep. But this might be different for you!
Of course, if you have a condition such as insomnia that prevents you from getting the proper amount of sleep every night, simply forcing yourself to go to sleep wouldn’t be enough.
Depending on your needs, you must seek the appropriate help in order to sleep regularly and, consequently, have a healthy lifestyle.
5) Be mindful of what you eat
Mindful eating is key to having a healthy lifestyle.
But what does it mean to eat mindfully?
Eating mindfully doesn’t mean counting the calories of every single food you eat, or making sure everything is gluten-free or organic.
It simply means being attentive to how you buy, prepare, and consume your food.
This means avoiding junk food, eating more vegetables, and eating enough food to match your needs in order to function well.
6) Manage your time
Time management is something that is not talked about enough when it comes to having a healthy lifestyle.
But in order to have a healthy lifestyle, it is critical for you to know how to manage your time effectively.
Because in order to have time to sleep sufficiently, to exercise, and to prepare healthy food, you must know how to manage your time.
Of course, this still doesn’t include the time you need to work.
If you don’t know how to manage your time, you probably won’t be able to allot enough time to do everything you need in order to achieve a healthy lifestyle.
7) Know that it’s not an overnight process
Changing your lifestyle does not happen overnight.
It is a long, arduous process whose level of difficulty depends on how much you need to change.
Taking all of these factors into account, know that it’s okay if you don’t see results immediately.
The results will be gradual, but when you finally see them, you will be thankful that you didn’t quit easily.
Remember: you’re not only doing this for yourself, you’re doing it for your future children as well.
You got this!