Exercise as Effective Add-on Treatment for Depression

A recent study has found that exercise can be an effective add-on therapy for depression.

A recent study performed by University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center researchers have found that exercise can be an effective add-on therapy for depression.

Intensive exercise has long been believed to be a regulating mood elevator, as it releases endorphins within the body, but prior to this study, physical activity was not suggested as a mental health treatment.

Madhukar Trived, the study's lead author, reported that many depressed patients “who start on an antidepressant medication feel better after they begin treatment, but they still don't feel completely well or as good as they did before they became depressed.”

The study was performed over the course of four years and is the first to focus on the results regular physical activity and exercise can have on depressed patients when added to conventional medical treatment.

The researchers placed the patients into one of two groups, both of which had the patients go through intensive exercise regimes but at different levels. Patients followed the exercise regimes for 12 weeks.

Researchers had the patients undergo psychiatric counseling throughout the treatment; they found that 30% of patients in both groups achieved a full remission from depression, and 20% achieved an even more significant improvement.

“This study shows that exercise can be as effective as adding another medication,” stated Trived. “Many people would rather use exercise than add another drug, particularly as exercise has a proven positive effect on a person's overall health and well-being.”

“It also points to a new direction in trying to determine factors that tell us which treatment may be the most effective,” continued Trivedi, “illustrating that treatments may need to be tailored to the individual.”