Depression is a very common disease in the world today and the number of people who may be affected by this disease, or even may die because of it, is quite impressive. It is usually treated with antidepressants alone or in conjunction with psychological therapy.
What few people know is that depression can be treated with exercise. Studies show that depression is more prevalent among sedentary people than among people who exercise regularly and, yes, this can be interpreted as a prevention. And there is still more evidence, it was identified that physically fit people are less likely to develop depression. One can imagine that depression might be associated with obesity, as many sedentary people develop obesity. But no, studies also show that physical inactivity, even in the absence of obesity, increases the risk of developing depression.
The drug therapy has a faster initial effect, however, after four months, the exercise has shown the same effect as drugs and even better, after 10 months the symptoms of depression were much lower in patients who were doing exercises, compared to patients taking drugs. There is no determination of the type of exercise that best acts on the symptoms of depression, but study shows that a higher frequency of exercise is more effective than lower frequency and greater intensity. This means that a more active lifestyle can be a way to prevent and treat depression. People who choose to exercise every day can treat and prevent depression.
Exercise can act in the improvement of depression in many different ways. It may have an improvement in social life, since the mind is otherwise occupied, it decreases the sensation of chronic fatigue that is present in people with depression and in most cases exercise improves fitness, by releasing substances that act on mood and cause well-being feeling and satisfaction all together. What really matters is that exercise is already used as therapy for depression and with many advantages. It has no side effects, it does not damage the body, and brings much more benefits than taking medications.
However, we are not saying that a person with depression does not need a doctor’s advice. What we would like to emphasize is that treatments should include new therapies, such as exercises.
So get dressed in comfortable athletic wear and start exercising.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Ivani Manzzo is PhD in Science from the School of Medicine UNIFESP – EPM in São Paulo, Brazil, with emphasis on obesity, pregnancy and exercise. In 2010 she began hers studies as Life Coach and has since worked helping people achieve their nutritional and heath goals. These articles are published with Dra Ivani Manzzo’s permission.