Exercise – the underutilised antidepressant

Exercise – the underutilised antidepressant

Physical activity not only helps prevent depression, but should be considered an effective therapeutic option for patients who already have the condition, researchers say.

According to a review published recently in Current Sports Medicine Reports, major depressive disorder is an exceedingly common, disabling condition with prevalence estimates ranging from 6% to 18% across different countries worldwide.

At present, the mainstays of treatment are antidepressants and psychotherapies. But neither of these options are ideal. While both are better than placebo, they have relatively poor rates of effectiveness and are also associated with high dropout rates, poor adherence and in the case of medication can be associated with side effects.

It is little wonder then that people are looking to alternatives, especially factors they can modify themselves to help protect against this mental illness, say the two experts from the UK and Brazil.

“There is growing recognition that lifestyle behaviours, such as physical activity and exercise partially contribute to the risk of developing depression and can be useful strategies for ...

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