Exercise can cure depression

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    Also visit the online treatment locator.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service), or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.

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Last Updated: 08/30/2022

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Exercise for depression

Numerous scientific studies have noted that exercises that improve oxygen metabolism (dancing, basketball, jogging, cycling, swimming, walking, etc.), as well as exercises that do not belong to this category (such as weightlifting) can relieve depression when it is assessed as mild to moderate and, in addition, increase the effectiveness of treatment for more severe depression. Even such an exercise that does not require strength, like a walk, does its job. Just keeping a stable regimen for melancholy can serve as a powerful tonic.

Exercises are so effective that if a person performs them in combination with psychotherapy and/or medication, he will rather bring his recovery closer than if he was limited to the treatment course.

The effects of exercise may be long-term. One study of 5,000 college students who enrolled in a mental health course found that students who exercised regularly (even for seven years after completing the course) experienced a reduction in depression and anxiety. Exercise, along with other methods, can be a powerful weapon for your loved one in the fight against depression. Why is exercise so effective? There are several theories to explain this phenomenon. On a psychological level, these activities distract a person from feelings of pain and loss. By winning a round of tennis, or perhaps by running around the block, he will gain a sense of accomplishment that will overcome feelings of hopelessness and despair. Exercise, especially if done in the context of team sports, dance, or aerobics, can also ease feelings of isolation. Moreover, the activities for which we go out into nature, such as walking, skiing, or just walking in the forest, are good for the soul.

The positive effects of movement can also come from biological sources. Scientists have found that physical activity releases chemicals in the brain called endorphins. They act like morphine: relieve pain and improve mood. In addition, physical activity improves the action and metabolism of mediators such as norepinephrine and serotonin. And they are extremely important to regulate mood.

How much exercise is enough? It is enough to perform a set of aerobic exercises two to five times a week, lasting thirty to forty minutes, taking five to ten minutes at the beginning for warming up and at the end for rest. These exercises should be demanding, but not too difficult, so that the person is able to perform them without feeling that all his efforts are doomed to failure. No set of exercises will work if a person finds it too difficult to perform. In this case, you should start with easier activities and, as they are mastered, increase the load.

Failure can cause emotional downturns and increase feelings of inferiority and loss in a person, so he needs to really see his goals. A friendly non-competitive game of tennis where you just exchange strokes can be much more rewarding than playing on the score. If a person liked it, then he most likely wants to play more.

Of course, no set of exercises will be effective if a person does not want to perform it. A person suffering from depression can be heavy on their feet when they need to do something. Therefore, it would be nice to start with joint short walks. Sometimes it's better than nothing. Focus on small steps that bring you closer to your goal. In addition, a person will be better prepared for classes if they are convenient for him and do not violate the daily routine.

There is only one small risk with exercise: some people may become too accustomed to the changes they cause. A sign of this addiction is the need to constantly increase the "dose" of exercise in order to achieve a positive effect: training becomes the main thing, and work and family relationships go by the wayside, in addition, the person becomes inclined to put above all such "well-being". Sometimes excessive exercise can be a sign of obsessive neurosis. If such circumstances arise, they should be discussed with the doctor and taken into account when prescribing treatment. Even in ancient times, Aristotle advised "to be moderate in everything." This also applies to the exercises with which we fight depression.

material prepared:

P.K. Dzhulay, responsible for HLS, City Clinical Hospital No. 3, Grodno

Physical exercise for depression | Cochrane

Why is this review important?

Depression is a common and disabling (disabling) disease that affects more than 100 million people worldwide. Depression can have a significant impact on people's physical health, as well as reduce their quality of life. Studies have shown that both methods - pharmacological and psychological treatments may be effective in treating depression. However, many people choose to try alternative treatments. Some NHS guidelines suggest using exercise as a method of choosing another treatment. However, it is not clear whether Studies have found that exercise is an effective treatment for depression.

Who might be interested in this review?

Patients and their families suffering from depression.
General practitioners.
Mental health policy makers.
Psychiatric professionals.

What questions does this review seek to answer?

This review is an update of a previous Cochrane review from 2010 which suggested that exercise may reduce depressive symptoms, but the effect was small and did not appear to last after participants stopped exercising.

We wanted to find out if there have been more clinical trials on the effect of exercise as a treatment for depression since our last review that would allow us to answer the following questions:

Is exercise really more effective than no therapy in reducing symptoms of depression ?
Is exercise more effective than antidepressants in reducing symptoms of depression?
Is exercise more effective than psychological therapy or other non-medical treatments for depression?
How acceptable is exercise to patients as a treatment for depression?

What studies were included in the review?

We searched databases to find all high quality randomized controlled trials that assessed the effectiveness of exercise in treating depression in adults over 18 years of age. We searched for studies published up to March 2013. We also searched for current studies up to March 2013. All studies had to include adults diagnosed with depression, and physical activity undertaken had to meet criteria to ensure that it [physical activity] fit the definition of "exercise."

We included 39 studies with a total of 2326 participants in the review. The review authors noted that the quality of some of the studies was low, limiting confidence in the conclusions. When only high-quality trials were included, exercise only had a small effect on mood that was not statistically significant.

What does the evidence from this review tell us?

Exercise is somewhat more effective in reducing symptoms of depression than no treatment.
Exercise is no more effective than antidepressants in reducing depressive symptoms, although this conclusion is based on a small number of studies.
Exercise is no more effective than psychological therapy for reducing symptoms of depression, although this conclusion is based on a small number of studies.

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