Depressed? Think of exercise as a treatment

Image by Daniel Reche from Pixabay

Any type of exercise can decrease the symptoms of depression.

Source: Image by Daniel Reche from Pixabay

Exercise. Just hearing the word causes many feelings of dread and guilt. And we all know that getting motivated to start can be tough.

With depression, amotivation or lack of motivation is a characteristic symptom. So doing anything can be a challenge, making it impossible to motivate yourself to exercise. But there is growing evidence that exercise may be as effective for some people as antidepressants or psychotherapy. The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense Clinical practice guidelines for the treatment of depression, recommend using it to supplement traditional treatment or as the main treatment if you are not inclined to see a provider.

Obviously, if you have symptoms of severe depression and / or are planning to kill yourself, exercise is not the treatment of choice. Please see a mental health care provider, your primary care physician, or go to the nearest emergency room. However, if your symptoms of depression are not severe, or if you are looking to increase current depression treatment, consider trying exercise. (Disclaimer: If you haven’t exercised and / or have other health concerns, please consult your doctor before starting.)

OKAY. How to start when motivation is already a challenge? There are two basic rules for starting to exercise, whether you have depression or just want to start exercising:

1. Choose an exercise that you like.

Exercise is a loosely defined term that boils down to engaging in some type of physical activity that increases aerobic health or endurance, balance, strength and / or flexibility. This means that the exercise or exercises you choose can literally be anything. Walking the beach, playing Frisbee, walking your dog, working in the yard, dancing, lifting weights, running, swimming, hunting fossils, team sports, golf, tennis, cycling, yoga, hiking, lessons formal exercises (e.g. Zumba, Step), fencing, martial arts including tai chi, climbing stairs, throwing a baseball, Pilates, weight training (e.g. weight training, push-ups, squats, etc.) – you get the idea. Do what you love (or what doesn’t sound too great).

2. Prepare to be successful.

This means that you have to start by doing something that you know you can do that doesn’t take a lot of time and is realistic. If you’ve been sedentary for a long time and aren’t in shape, it could be doing five crunches, slowly walking a quarter-mile, or doing 10 bicep curls with 5-pound weights. The point is to do something. Because it will naturally build on itself – the next day you may find yourself doing a little more, and as you improve you will add more exercises, distance, or reps because you you will find to want to, don’t feel like you have at.

What Does Exercise Do For Depression?

Just as depression gets worse and can be a vicious cycle, exercise does the same in the opposite direction. Thinking of depression, some of the symptoms, such as lack of energy and lack of motivation, worsen other symptoms of depression because people stop engaging in physical activities and activities with them. others. This leads to a worsening of the mood.

Because people with depression can have energy issues, they often crave foods that are high in calories and high in sugar and carbohydrates to get them through the day. This can lead to poor health and weight gain, which in turn worsens energy and motivation issues, as well as potential issues with self-image and feelings of self-worth. Depression can put people on a downward spiral because the symptoms of depression feed on themselves.

Exercise can help reverse this as it does the same thing in the opposite direction. Once you start exercising, the fear of the thought of exercising goes away and you begin to experience personal success and a sense of control. Because exercise helps increase energy, improve cognition, and increase motivation, you start to do more naturally, which leads to other physical activities, better physical health, changes in fitness. brain chemistry and increased social activities and interactions. As your body gets used to exercising, you will also start craving healthier foods, and if you wanted to lose weight, this can happen naturally. Exercise creates an upward spiral in the same way that even a mild depression can trigger a downward spiral.

Exercise is an interesting treatment. Assuming it’s done responsibly so that you don’t injure yourself, the side effects are positive, and many exercises don’t require expensive equipment (or none at all). In addition to improving symptoms of depression, it is also an effective strategy for preventing depressive episodes and a very effective form of stress management. Essentially, exercise is an inexpensive option that avoids drug side effects, improves physical and psychological health, and provides protection against future depression. If you are suffering from depression it is definitely worth a try, alone or in conjunction with your current treatment.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog is not a substitute for professional advice, mental health diagnosis or treatment. Seek advice from your mental health care provider or primary care provider for professional advice about your mental health, including whether the information presented in this blog may be of benefit to you.

Leave a Comment