Stay happy to avoid winter illness, academic advises

Posted on 14 October 2011

People who get depressed during winter are much more likely to fall ill in other ways during the season, a professor has noted.

The University of Manchester's Geoffrey Beattie pointed out that more than a quarter of Brits believe they will experience some kind of depression during the winter.

Furthermore, around three in four people think they will get a cold or flu.

However, these two illnesses are not unconnected, emphasised Mr Beattie, as whether an individual picks up the bugs that circulate during winter can very much depend on their mental state.

The expert noted that having a good social support networking can stave off illnesses such as a cold, even when exposure to the cold virus is frequent.

In the winter, people change their social habits quite dramatically, making them more prone to bugs, he explained.

"In the summer, they're happy to go out and make friends, then suddenly the long hours start setting in and then it becomes not so good, and they spend more time in doors, more time in front of the television," explained Mr Beattie.

Those who spend a lot of time on their own watching TV can experience negative moods, which in turn make them more vulnerable to winter viruses.

"So the question is can we do something about it, can we make people more proactive in doing what they should be doing in the autumn and winter rather than it just being a self-fulfilling prophecy," he added.

This follows the release of a new booklet from the Mental Health Foundation which is designed to tackle psychological issues among people in their 60s.

The literature is intended to combat the negative effects that the transition into retirement can have with ten simple steps designed to safeguard mental health.

 

Posted by Nigel Murphy

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