Housework and the Depression Link
Many people dread daily housework and see it as a chore they would far rather avoid than complete for a clean house. Yet, a new study suggests that housework can actually help to treat the symptoms of depression.
This new research comes on the heel of older research that indicated the exact opposite – housework could increase depression.
To understand how two studies can differ so greatly, it's important to look at how they were performed and exactly what they found in the research.
Older Research Into Depression and HouseworkA 2002 study showed that housework such as dusting, ironing and cleaning could make a person depressed. After surveying people on their home or work and leisure activities, researchers found that housework had a tendency to lower a person's mood. Researchers used a depression monitor that is known as a hospital and anxiety depression scale. After using this scale, researchers found that housework had a negative effect on people.
Study ResultsThey found that with activities such as exercise, the more people did the better they felt. However, with housework it was the opposite – the more people did the worse they felt. Still, researchers did also say that doing a lot of housework could make a person feel depressed for other reasons, such as being stuck in the house and not being active and socialising.
With this particular study, it contrasts quite a bit with new research suggesting that housework can help depression. One reason for such a discrepancy might be that the new study looked at smaller bouts of housework. It could be that the physical activity portion of housework combined with the gratification of seeing things become much cleaner serves to lift a person's spirits and improve depression.
Housework to Help DepressionResearchers in an earlier 2008 study found that by doing just twenty minutes a week of housework, people were able to improve their moods and help treat the symptoms of depression. Researchers initially began studying how different kinds of activities affected people who suffered from depression.
They looked at information provided from twenty thousand surveys in Scotland. Approximately 3200 people who had responded to surveys suffered from anxiety or depression. However, those people who performed sports or did housework on a regular basis were the least likely to suffer from depression. In fact, a single twenty-minute session of housework or even just going for a walk reduced a person's risk of suffering from depression by twenty percent.
Sports for DepressionSports clocked in higher with a reduced depression risk of more than one third. Researchers think that ultimately, performing physical activity boosts the body's production of 'feel good' chemicals such as endorphins, with exercise having a significant effect and improving a person's mood as more is performed.
When it comes to housework though, it appears that a small, twenty-minute burst is sufficient for helping depression but based on the earlier housework and depression study, more housework may have the opposite effect.