Engaging in socio-cultural activities could “dramatically” reduce the chances of becoming depressed in old age, a new study has found.
The study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, was carried out by researchers at the University College London.
According to the study, people who went out to watch movies at the cinema, saw plays at the theatre, or visited museums for exhibitions every few months had a 32 percent lower risk of developing depression.
Those engaging in these social activities once a month or more were said to have a 48 percent lower risk of developing depression.
The researchers reviewed data of more than 2,000 people over the age of 50, who took part in the long-running English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA).
ELSA provides information covering the health, social, wellbeing and economic circumstances of older people in England.
Based on questionnaires and interviews that spanned a 10-year period, the researchers were able to identify a “clear link between the frequency of ‘cultural engagement’ and the chances of someone over 50 developing depression”.
They concluded that for maximum benefit, the cultural activities suggested by the study should be combined with “social interaction, creativity, mental stimulation and gentle physical activity”.
Commenting on the findings, Daisy Fancourt, lead author of the study, said: “For it (cultural engagement) to have long-term benefits for mental health, we need to engage in activities regularly.
“Depression is a major issue affecting millions of people. If we are starting to feel low or isolated then cultural engagement is something simple that we can do to proactively help with our own mental health before it gets to the point where we need professional medical help.”