Good nutrition is a crucial factor in influencing the way we feel, the food we eat can affect the development, management and prevention of numerous mental health conditions including depression. A study in The British Journal of Psychiatry compared a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and fish with one heavily loaded with sweetened desserts, fried foods, processed meats, and processed grains. It concluded that after five years, eating mostly processed foods increased the risk of depression while eating whole foods decreased the risk of depression. A healthy balanced diet is one that includes healthy amounts of proteins, essential fats, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water.
Studies have also shown that a lack of physical activity can lead to mental health problems. Although the connection between anxiety, mood swings and physical activity isn’t clear, regular exercise has been found to reduce stress, frustration and anger. Similarly, smoking has a negative impact on both mental and physical health and whilst many people with mental health problems believe that smoking relieves their symptoms, these effects are only ever short-term.
Fatigue is a reduction in physical and/or mental capacity as the result of physical, mental or emotional exertion. It may come about after an extended period without sleep, or as a result of poor quality, interrupted or just too little sleep over a period of days. Although physical and mental fatigues are different, if allowed to continue for long enough one will lead to the other. Workload at sea, often with irregular hours, and changing clocks can contribute to fatigue if not properly managed. The relationship between fatigue and depression can become a vicious circle; whilst fatigue can fuel depression unfortunately one of the symptoms of depression is often fatigue.