Gardening, the New Antidepressant?

Gardening, the New Antidepressant?

Posted by Lauren Moore on
The Headline of this blog may be slightly confusing to many of you. Many studies are now linking a reduction in the affects of depression and anxiety to the pursuit of gardening as a hobby. Sarah Rayner, an author on Psychology Today, called this “petal power”.

This blog is in no way aimed at telling people that gardening will cure mental health problems. Mental illnesses are very complex and require lots of care and attention. 

Experts claim depression is a global epidemic. Many people don’t wish to go on medication for personal reasons and instead choose things such as such as yoga, mindfulness and therapies. One route many people don’t think of, believe it or not, is gardening! Not only does it make you get up and go outside, it can also help to increase your serotonin levels and reduce anxiety levels because of a bacteria found in soil.

The bacteria is called Mycobacterium Vaccae. A group of researches at the University of Bristol carried out a number of studies on the bacteria and found that it increases serotonin levels and decreases anxiety levels in mice. Obviously we aren’t mice, but these results are believed to have beneficial impacts on humans too! It’s not only the bacteria that can help, a survey carried out by healthy magazine found that 80% of gardeners believe gardening helps them to stay in shape physically and mentally. 

Sarah Rayner outlined 10 reasons how gardening can help to pick up low mood and reduce anxiety. Some of which included; Looking after plants gives us a sense of responsibility, gardening allows us to be nurturers, it helps us to relax and let go, and lastly, working with nature releases the happiest of hormones.

Dick Sederquist from everyday health stated that being in the outdoors helped him to manage his depression. There are already a number of charities who help people to manage their mental health. There are a few in the UK and you can find them here, here and here.

If you don’t have a garden and wish to start, why not volunteer at a local community garden?

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