Exercise May Be More Effective Than Antidepressants In Treating Depression

A paper published in the BMJ found that exercise may be more effective than antidepressants in treating depression.

Exercise May Be More Effective Than Antidepressants In Treating Depression 1

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Dancing far outperforms all other activities and pharmaceutical therapies when it comes to curing depression, according to research, with rigorous exercise following closely behind.

Exercise May Be More Effective Than Antidepressants In Treating Depression 2

When combined with other proven therapies or used alone, exercise was found to be moderately helpful at treating depression when compared to current medications, according to a BMJ publication. Furthermore, the advantages of exercise “tended to be proportional to the intensity prescribed,” which meant that greater exertion produced more substantial advantages.

Experts from Australia carried out a systematic review and meta-analysis of 14,170 patients with major depressive disorders from 218 unique studies to determine the optimal type and quantity of exercise for treating the disorder. They also ranked the efficacy of various exercise regimens about currently recommended treatments, such as psychotherapy, antidepressants, and control conditions.

Key Findings

They discovered that, when utilized in isolation without medical intervention, walking or running, yoga, strength training, and dancing were the most beneficial forms of exercise, and that the effects of particular exercises varied between men and women. Interestingly, weight exercise and cycling were more beneficial for women and younger people, while walking and running were beneficial for both men and women. males and older adults benefited more from yoga and qigong, whereas males were more positively affected than women by aerobic exercise combined with psychotherapy.

Greater benefits were obtained from more strenuous exercise across all modalities, including mixed aerobic exercise, jogging, interval training, strength training, and yoga. However, even mild exercise, such as strolling or hatha yoga, produced “clinically meaningful effects.” For those with baseline depression and other medical disorders, the effects of exercise were equally beneficial at varying weekly doses.

All things considered, dance proved to be more effective than any other kind of exercise or recognized depression treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and selective serotonin reuptake medications.

“Based on our findings, dance appears to be a promising treatment for depression, with large effects found compared with other interventions in our review,” the authors wrote. However, they were unable to recommend dance due to the short number of research, low participant numbers, and biases in study designs.

What Is Major Depressive Disorder?

One of the main causes of disability in the world, major depressive disorder is characterized by a mood that is consistently low or depressed, a lack of interest in or enjoyment from life or enjoyable activities, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, low energy, difficulty concentrating, changes in appetite, psychomotor disturbances, sleep problems, or suicidal thoughts.

Research indicates that the illness can hurt interactions with others, lead to functional impairment, and aggravate pre-existing medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. Major depressive disorder can be quite crippling if left untreated.

In 2021, 21 million U.S. individuals 18 years of age or older had at least one major depressive episode, accounting for 8 percent of all adults in the country. Major depressive episodes were most common in women and those aged 18 to 25.

Of those, 14.5 million adult Americans had at least one major depressive episode that seriously hindered their ability to function. Furthermore, 5 million American teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17—or around 20% of the adolescent population in that age range—had at least one significant depressive episode. 3.7 million of them went through a depressive episode that seriously hindered their ability to function.

Demand for Alternative Treatment Options

The BMJ reports that while many patients with major depressive illness are resistant to treatment, some react effectively to medication and psychotherapy. This has led researchers to investigate complementary or even superior treatments, such as exercise, that may be used in addition to or instead of traditional medical therapy or counseling.

The results of the study justify the inclusion of exercise, particularly strenuous exercise, in the clinical practice guidelines for depression, despite the limitations stated by the researchers regarding their review.

“Although confidence in many of the results was low, treatment guidelines may be overly conservative by conditionally recommending exercise as a complementary or alternative treatment for patients in whom psychotherapy or pharmacotherapy is either ineffective or unacceptable,” they wrote. “Instead, guidelines for depression ought to include exercise prescriptions and consider adapting the modality to participants’ characteristics and recommending more vigorous intensity exercises.”

Recently, GreatGameIndia reported that according to new research published in Nature, depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder are linked with ancient viral DNA known as HERVs in our genome.

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