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Exercise Doesn’t Treat Depression, Says New Study

Exercise Doesn’t Treat Depression, Says New Study

A number of studies have found that exercise can have positive benefits for those struggling with depression — but a new study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) has found that, combined with conventional treatments including medication and therapy, it does not.

The result was acknowledged to be disappointing by the researchers themselves; they noted that many patients with depression would prefer not to take anti-depressants.

BMJ Study: “Facilitated physical activity as a treatment for depressed adults: randomised controlled trial”

361 people aged 18 – 69 — all of whom had recently consulted their doctor about depression — were involved in the study and were all receiving conventional treatments. For eight months, a randomly selected group also received what the researchers called a TREAD (TREAtment of Depression with physical activity) intervention. This included counseling on up to 13 separate occasions on how to increase their physical activity, by engaging in moderate or vigorous activity for 150 minutes a week in sessions of at least 10 minutes. If that much activity seemed unrealistic, the facilitator encouraged participants to increase their physical activity in any way, regardless of the intensity.

While these individuals were found to have “good results in terms of encouraging people to do more over a sustained period of time – something which could have benefits to their general physical health,” the researchers did not find that they were less depressed than the group that had been less active.

As the study authors note, previous studies that found exercise effective in treating depression involved small non-clinical samples and used interventions that would not be practical in a clinical setting.

Exercise Certainly Has Overall Health Benefits, Researchers Note

In 2004, the UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) created guidelines suggesting that those with depression exercise for up to three sessions a week. These guidelines had been created following research available at the time.

One of the study’s researchers, Prof John Campbell, from the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, noted that the benefits of exercise can certainly not be discounted. He underscored that “exercise is very good for you, but it’s not good for treating people with what was actually quite severe depression.” Specifically, he noted how “that buzz we all get from moderate intensity of exercise” — the “runner’s high” sort of feeling you can get after a session of physical activity — is not sustained.

Professor Alan Maryon-Davis, a professor of public health at King’s College London who was not involved in the study, expressed disappointment with its results and noted some of its limits. For instance, the study did “not look at mild depression nor did it consider exercise as an alternative to medication,” but looked at exercise as an additional treatment for depression, along with medication. Maryon-Davis emphasized the overall benefits of exercise:

The message mustn’t be to stop exercising. Exercise has so many other benefits – it is good in terms of heart disease, lowers blood pressure, has a beneficial effect on the balance of fats in the blood, strengthens muscles, and burns up calories. A lot of people who have depression may have other problems too. And an active body helps to produce a healthy mind.

So the jury is still out about whether, in a clinical setting, exercise can treat depression. But it seems hard to dispute that exercise does have benefits for your overall health — certainly being in generally good health has some effect on one’s state of mind?

Related Care2 Coverage

Donut Blues: Does Eating High-Fat Foods Make Us Depressed?

Does Every Child Have The Right To Nature?

Can Exercise Treat Depression?

 

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82 comments

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5:21AM PDT on Mar 10, 2013

It's a way to help

2:27AM PST on Jan 28, 2013

Exercise may make you feel better, and it may beat a case of "the blues", but when you are in full-on depression, it's a colossal effort just to get out of bed. You cannot imagine if you have never been there. Do not make light of depression, as though it is something you can just pull yourself out of. Depression is like a psychic vampire that just sucks you dry,

http://sensatorispace.com/anxiety/

3:52PM PST on Nov 12, 2012

I disagree with this study, as I have had depression for several years, and I find that exercise, and even going for a walk really helps.

1:16AM PST on Nov 9, 2012

Exercise may make you feel better, and it may beat a case of "the blues", but when you are in full-on depression, it's a colossal effort just to get out of bed. You cannot imagine if you have never been there. Do not make light of depression, as though it is something you can just pull yourself out of. Depression is like a psychic vampire that just sucks you dry, until life has no meaning, and you have no will at all.

7:06AM PDT on Sep 29, 2012

Kenneth L.: Your comments are a needed reminder to all, to beware of any 'studies' out there. They are only as good as the most unbiased people performing the studies! These comment places are so excellent for pros and cons of any government's or those of the 1%'s advocacies Yes, there may be kernals of truth in them, but until the sort of feedback comment sections of places like Care2 or other groups formed to inform and protect citizenry from all the info spread around these days are read and given free rein, take everything you read with a grain of salt!

12:33PM PDT on Sep 27, 2012

LOL, here's the truth about the study and I quote "the study did “not look at mild depression nor did it consider exercise as an alternative to medication,” but looked at exercise as an additional treatment for depression, along with medication."
So the many negative side-effects of antidepressants which ARE real and substantiated were still part and parcel of the exercise study. Ms. Chew is obviously a bought and sold believer in Psychiatry and it's 'disorders'.

"Make no mistake about this business of psychiatry. It is a belief system, not a science"
"...the ever expanding encroachment of psychiatric oppression to more and more of the population, and to individuals who are less and less in need of actual help. This encroachment takes the form of mass marketing for psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry." Dr. John Breeding, Psychologist

12:33PM PDT on Sep 27, 2012

LOL, here's the truth about the study and I quote "the study did “not look at mild depression nor did it consider exercise as an alternative to medication,” but looked at exercise as an additional treatment for depression, along with medication."
So the many negative side-effects of antidepressants which ARE real and substantiated were still part and parcel of the exercise study. Ms. Chew is obviously a bought and sold believer in Psychiatry and it's 'disorders'.

"Make no mistake about this business of psychiatry. It is a belief system, not a science"
"...the ever expanding encroachment of psychiatric oppression to more and more of the population, and to individuals who are less and less in need of actual help. This encroachment takes the form of mass marketing for psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry." Dr. John Breeding, Psychologist

12:33PM PDT on Sep 27, 2012

LOL, here's the truth about the study and I quote "the study did “not look at mild depression nor did it consider exercise as an alternative to medication,” but looked at exercise as an additional treatment for depression, along with medication."
So the many negative side-effects of antidepressants which ARE real and substantiated were still part and parcel of the exercise study. Ms. Chew is obviously a bought and sold believer in Psychiatry and it's 'disorders'.

"Make no mistake about this business of psychiatry. It is a belief system, not a science"
"...the ever expanding encroachment of psychiatric oppression to more and more of the population, and to individuals who are less and less in need of actual help. This encroachment takes the form of mass marketing for psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry." Dr. John Breeding, Psychologist

10:31AM PDT on Aug 28, 2012

it helps me. along with my paxil, support from my family, and doing my best to stay positive

1:11PM PDT on Aug 14, 2012

I don't know the people who conducted this study, but something is wrong with their methods because, exercise most definitely helps me, - and I suspect, MOST people - when I am depressed. I start doing a lot of housework/gardenwork/ walking and before I know it, my mind is cleared of the stress and my heart is lighter. Exercise has long been considered a changer of bad mood and I myself and too many people I've talked to agree that it works for us/them to discount it as these researchers have. I'd like to study heir methodology because it is too important a remedy to be disputed.

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