Fiona Hargraves

Evaluation of a multi-component lifestyle medicine model for treating depression

It is estimated only 50% of those experiencing depression seek help. Along with pharmacological and psychological treatments, many clinicians and patients seek lifestyle strategies for treating and managing depression. There is a comprehensive body of high-quality evidence that lifestyle intervention such as physical activity, diet, sleep and mindfulness or meditation can reduce depression and anxiety in both clinical and non-clinical populations. Although there is evidence of efficacy for these lifestyle measures as stand-alone strategies, evidence is lacking on how to best fit these lifestyles components together in a model to best help people as it exists in clinical reality.

Fiona’s study will examine whether a multi-component lifestyle intervention including exercise, nutrition, sleep and mindfulness can improve clinically diagnosed depression as a complement to traditional psychological and pharmaceutical therapies. This will entail a systematic review, survey, randomised controlled trial (RCT) utilising digital technology and follow-up study focused on people diagnosed with moderate to severe depression. The RCT will assess a blended delivery for impact and reach within remote and rural communities as well as those individuals who do not seek help in person.

Fiona completed her Bachelor of Science (Exercise Science) degree from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles and Master of Human Nutrition from Deakin University, Victoria. She is a published lifestyle author, experienced international presenter and university lecturer with over 20 years’ experience in Australia and the United States. Fiona is a qualified exercise physiologist and nutritionist and is also trained as a health and wellness coach, and is well placed to undertake this research.

After recent years lecturing at university in nutrition, Fiona is now focused on making a difference in mental health with her research interests in health behaviour change, integrative medicine, lifestyle interventions and digital technologies.


Professor Jerome Sarris, Dr Joseph Firth

Funded by the NICM HRI and Blackmores Institute Scholarship Program