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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 April, 2004, 05:07 GMT 06:07 UK
Chat best for blues, survey says
Talk is tops, but a good hug ranks a close second
The most common ways to beat low mood are having someone to talk to and being hugged, a survey published by a mental health charity has found.

The Mental Health Foundation's survey found having "someone to talk to" was the top choice to allay the blues.

But there was a gender gulf - 83% of women asked in the survey chose this compared to 68% of men.

More than twice as many men chose sex to lighten their mood than women, who prefer spending time with the family.

Have a hug

Having a hug ranked second for both sexes at 45% for men and 57% for women.

Dr Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said the aim of the project was to discourage everyone from neglecting their mental well-being.

"This research is light-hearted, but there is a very serious message behind it," said Dr McCulloch.

"The very commonness of mental illness is one of the most powerful messages we have when we are trying to fight stigma," he added.

Regional divide

Londoners and people in the Midlands were most likely to want to talk about their woes at 83% and 84% respectively, while people from North West, Wales and Scotland were least likely to want to, the survey said.

Exercise was also cited as a major coping mechanism for sadness at 54% in London, 37% in Northern Ireland and 20% in the South East and South West.

People from the North West were most likely to feel better if they spent "time with family", while almost half of people surveyed in Scotland and the North East reported 'spending time with a pet' as helpful (46%), compared with just 16% in the Midlands.

People in the North East most frequently chose "sex" as a coping mechanism.

Respondents in the Midlands and Scotland said they would rather have an alcoholic drink to cope with feeling down.

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