Taking a Short Nature Walk is Beneficial for People, Even for those with Clinical Depression

By Lisa Franchi on May 18, 2012

If you’re feeling stressed, down and depressed, you might want to leave your busy world for a while and take some time walking in the woods. Why? According to a new study published in the journal of Affective Disorders, a short trip to the nature can help improve memory and attention rate, even in the case of depressed people.

The said study adopted the same research method used in previous studies showing how a nature walk improves wellness and mental strength. For instance, a 2008 study was the first to reveal that taking a one-hour walk in a woodland park boosts memory and attention. But the current study is the first to link nature walks with clinical depression.

Being in Natural Environment Improves Memory and Concentration

During the research, participants showed 16% improvement in their attention and working memory as compared to those who walked in a busy urban environment.

But when it comes to mood, the findings show no relevance between walking in natural environments and urban settings. Both have lead to the decrease in negative emotions and increase in positive feelings.

According to the researchers, being surrounded by nature relaxes the brain and restores the mental prowess – even if they’re only viewing pictures of natural environments and sceneries. On the other hand, walking in busy streets and being assailed by different sights, smells, and sounds exhausts the part of the brain responsible for attention and memory. Such area gets drained over time, worsening the condition of someone who’s depressed.

They also pointed out that taking a nature trip isn’t an alternative to the existing treatments for clinical depression. Nonetheless, it can be used as a supplemental method which can benefit patients by improving their sense of focus and memory.

More on Clinical Depression

While everyone else feels low at one point or another, the case is different with people diagnosed with major depression, also called clinical depression. This condition is characterised by recurring feeling of sadness, accompanied by low self-esteem and drifting mood. A person with clinical depression experiences constant feeling of desperation and helplessness even if there are obvious alternatives to his or her ‘problems’. According to WebMD, women are twice more likely to suffer from major depression than men. This is because depression in women can be aggravated by several factors like pregnancy, menopause, menstruation, puberty, and miscarriage. 

People with clinical depression have suicidal tendencies so seeking help at the earliest possible time is extremely important.

Source of this article:

Marc G. Berman, Ethan Kross, Katherine M. Krpan, Mary K. Askren, Aleah Burson, Patricia J. Deldin, Stephen Kaplan, Lindsey Sherdell, Ian H. Gotlib, John Jonides. Interacting with nature improves cognition and affect for individuals with depression. Journal of Affective Disorders, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2012.03.012

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