Time in Nature and Mental Health

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

A previous post examined a variety of leisure activities and mental health (1).

In this post, we look at time spent in nature and its impact on self reports of good health and well-being (2).

Who was studied? (2)

19,806 participants from the Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment Survey (2014/15–2015/16). (2)

What was studied? (2)

Researchers (2) looked at the relationship between time spent in nature in the last 7 days (in 60 min categories) and self-reported health (Good vs. poor) and subjective well-being (High vs. low) (2).

What were the results? (2)

  • The authors (2) found that Compared to no nature contact last week, the likelihood of reporting good health or high well-being became significantly greater with contact ≥120 mins (2).
  • Positive associations peaked between 200–300 mins per week with no further gain (2).
  • It did not matter how 120 mins of contact a week was achieved (e.g. one long vs. several shorter visits/week). (2)

What are some caveats?

  • This was a cross-sectional study design, which tells us about association, not cause and effect.
  • Benefits remained even when accounting for living in a low green space area (2).
  • Other research (3) indicates health benefits of walking in a forested area for ~16 minutes and viewing for ~14 minutes.

What are some examples of other healthy leisure activities (4)?

  • Spending quiet time alone
  • Visiting others
  • Eating with others
  • Doing fun things with others
  • Clubs/fellowship, and religious group participation
  • Vacationing
  • Communing with nature
  • Playing or watching sports
  • Hobbies

Also consider:

  • Working out or taking exercise classes
  • Meditating
  • Volunteering
  • Participating in an activities based student organization
  • Journaling
  • Drawing/coloring/painting

Anything else that can help?

In addition to leisure activities, the following activities can also help with physical and emotional health, wellness, stress:

sleep habits, etc.) (4)

  • Avoiding harmful habits(smoking, drug use, excessive alcohol, poor or inadequate nutrition, etc) (4)
  • This balance might vary from person to person.

Are there any campus resources on play?

Could spending time in nature benefit you?

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

References:

  1. http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2018/09/27/leisure-academics-and-mental-health/
  2. White MP, Alcock I, Grellier J, et al. Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing. Sci Rep. 2019;9(1):7730. Published 2019 Jun 13. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-44097-3.
  3. Park, B. J., Tsunetsugu, Y., Kasetani, T., Kagawa, T. & Miyazaki, Y. The physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku (taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing): evidence from field experiments in 24 forests across Japan. Environ Health Prev 15, 18–26 (2010).
  4. Pressman, S. D, et. al. Association of Enjoyable Leisure Activities With Psychological and Physical Well-Being. Psychosomatic Medicine: September 2009 – Volume 71 – Issue 7 – pp 725-732 doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181ad7978Top of Form

 

Study: Omega 3s may help with anxiety

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

A previous blog post discussed probiotics and anxiety (1), a recent review article examined whether omega-3 fatty acid treatment is associated with an improvement in anxiety (2).

What are omega 3 fatty acids?
• Omega-3 polyunsaturated are dietary fatty acids (PUFAs) that include alpha linoleic acid (ALA) which then converted to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (3).
• They are nutrients that cannot be made by the human body so we must get them through foods or supplements (3).

What was the study?
The study authors (2) reviewed 19 clinical trials including 2240 participants from 11 countries.

What were the results?

• The authors (2) found an association of improved anxiety symptoms with omega-3 treatment compared with controls groups in both placebo-controlled and non–placebo-controlled trials.
• They also found stronger anti-anxiety effect of omega-3’s when anxiety symptoms were more severe (clinical) than less severe (subclinical) populations (2).

How much omega 3s were used in the studies?

In the review of 19 clinical trials (2), anti-anxiety benefits occurred when using atleast 2grams per day of omega 3s, DHA and EPA combined.

The results did not differ whether the amount of epa was more than or less than 60% of total omega 3s.

What are some caveats?
• The populations studied were broad which makes it difficult to generalize to specific populations like college students.
• Some of the studies had a small sample size.
• There were a broad range of benefits in different studies.
• Omega 3s can interact with medications and supplements.

• Talk to your health provider before considering omega 3’s.

Based on the research findings, not everyone will have the same benefits from omega 3’s.

What are some sources of omega 3s?
According to the National Institute of Health(3), sources of omega 3’s include:
• Fish and other seafood (especially cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines)
• Nuts and seeds (such as flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts)
• Plant oils (such as flaxseed oil, soybean oil, and canola oil)
• Fortified foods (such as certain brands of eggs, yogurt, juices, milk, soy beverages, and infant formulas)
• Omega-3 dietary supplements include fish oil, krill oil, cod liver oil, and algal oil (a vegetarian source that comes from algae). They come in a wide range of doses and forms.

How much omega 3s do I need per day?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends consuming no more than 3 g/day of EPA and DHA combined, including up to 2 g/day from dietary supplements (3).

Where can I learn more about omega 3s?

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-Consumer/

What are some resources to improve nutrition?
• Nutrition coaching with The OSU Student Wellness Center
• Nutritionist at The OSU Wilce Wilce Student Health center
• Nutritionist at The OSU Wexner medical center
• Nutrition books
• Take a nutrition class
• Take a look at the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Harvard’s page on nutritional psychiatry.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

References:
1. http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2016/02/05/study-can-adjusting-gu-bacteria-impact-emotions/
2. Su KP, Tseng PT, Lin PY, et al. Association of Use of Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids With Changes in Severity of Anxiety Symptoms: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA 0Netw Open. 2018;1(5):e182327. Published 2018 Sep 14. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.2327
3. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-Consumer/

Multi-modal options for mental health support

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

College students can experience a broad variety of mental health concerns impacted by a variety of factors.

As a result, it is important for students to keep in mind that there are a variety of solutions and supports available.

While individual counseling, group counseling, psychiatry at our agency are good options, it is important for students to consider all of the resources available to them based on their situation/need, timeliness, and availability.

What if I need immediate assistance or if I am in crisis?

If you are in crisis, go here: https://ccs.osu.edu/about-us-and-our-services/need-immediate-assistance/

  • The link above includes info on Crisis text and call options.

What if I need to talk to someone after hours?

Go here: https://ccs.osu.edu/after-hours-services/

What are some other options for mental health support on campus? 

  • OSU SMART LAB. Uses biofeedback to help you identify sources of stress, problem solve ways to reduce stress, and practice relaxation techniques with our biofeedback software
  • Community Provider Database through OSU Counseling and consultation Service.  You can screen and find providers based problem area, specialty, insurance accepted, distance from campus.
  • Call the number on your insurance card, and they can refer you to a mental health provider in network in your area.
  • OSU Wellness coaching:
    • They aim to help you create the life you want to live, both now and in the future by help you create strategies that leverage your strengths to create and achieve meaningful goals.
  • Nutrition coaching They help you optimize your well-being by creating strategies and addressing barriers to holistic wellness.
  • Relationship education. Strategies on how to practice healthy relationships and prevent sexual violence
  • Alcohol and other drug prevention services. Uses a multi-modal approach to help you address these concerns.

What about self help resources?

What if I am not sure of what I need for mental health support?

  • Consider scheduling a phone screening service through OSU Student Life Counseling and Consultation Service. This phone appointment with our providers can help you figure out services that may be best for your needs, either with us or with one of our partner offices on or off campus.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.