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Now a Green Agenda for Mental Health

country walk
* 44 per cent said their self-esteem decreased after window shopping in the shopping centre.
It also showed the views of people who regularly partake in green activities run by Mind's network of local Mind associations:

* 90 per cent said it was the combination of nature and exercise that had the greatest effect on them
* 94 per cent said that green activities had benefited their mental health, lifting depression.

Antidepressant prescriptions are at an all-time high with over 31 million prescriptions written in 2006, up 6 per cent on the number of prescriptions written by general practitioners last year.

Within this figure, there has been a 10 per cent hike in primary care prescribing of SSRIs (Serotonin Specific Reuptake Inhibitors) which include drugs such as Prozac, from 14,746,100 in 2005 to 16,227,100 in 2006.

Depression can occur if some of the chemicals in your brain are not functioning effectively. There are three specific chemicals that can affect your mood: serotonin (also known as 5-HT), norepinephrine (NE), or dopamine (DA).

Specifically, serotonin acts as a chemical messenger in the brain. Its job is to pass signals from one nerve ending to the next. Once it delivers its signal or message, serotonin is taken up by the nerve tissue and broken down for the brain and body to reuse. If serotonin levels are low, it is difficult for nerve endings in the brain to communicate well with each other. Abnormally low levels of serotonin may not only play a role in diseases such as depression but also in conditions like panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, and eating disorders.

The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) block the ability of the nerve endings to bind and break down serotonin so that more serotonin is available to help the brain process nerves messages more efficiently and correctly.

But unlike drugs
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