Could gardening be used to help get rid of depression?

If you’re feeling depressed and under pressure, you should never feel as though you’re alone. In the UK, almost a fifth of adults experience depression or anxiety. This is according to research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). It also found that women report that they are suffer from the conditions more than men. Life can throw us some major curveballs, including overthinking an event or a family bereavement. However, it’s also thought that certain genetic variations may make some more prone to the condition than others.


Anti-depressants act as a ‘mood-enhancer’, thus some are prescribed to those suffering depression. However, this doesn’t work for everyone. Have you ever thought how gardening could help? Well, 87% of people who garden for more than six hours per week feel happier, according to research.  But why and how is this the case?


Help keeping you busy

In the garden, tasks don’t have to be too strenuous and are a great way to keep your mind and body active. 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.


Psychotherapist and clinical director, Dr Sheri Jacobson from Harley Therapy, believes that being outside can help tackle 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.”

Family gardening

If you’re suffering from depression, then feeling a lack of confidence is normal. 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.

According to scientists, some types of friendly bacteria that is in soil can work in a similar way to anti-depressants by boosting the immune system.


Produce your own food

It’s thought that producing your own crops helps you reconnect with the planet, its seasons and rhythms. So why not grow your own vegetables? Not only this, but tending to your crops will provide enough light exercise — at your own pace — to boost your endorphin levels.


Feeling as though you are not in control is one of the main causes of depression, so one way to help gain back some of that power could be through producing your own foods. 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? Harvesting our own crops can also release the ‘pleasure chemical’ dopamine 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!


Flowers that are plant scented

Breathing in scents such as lavender that have been released from plants are thought to alter gene activity and reduce levels of depression or stress, according to Japanese scientists. 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.


Although getting up to garden seems like a struggle, the benefits of gardening becoming a hobby can be significant. 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.

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