Run Away Blues

Exercise is the new medication for depression

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Do you see those depression commercials on TV and think ' that's me but those medications don't work?' Well, you may be in luck because some people are taking a new medication - exercise.

Exercise has been known to be an essential part in overall health and well being. Now, researchers believe it can have positive effects on people who suffer from depression.

"Start a regular exercise routine to brighten your day."

Lead author, Madhukar Trivedi, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at the University o f Texas Southwestern, found that moderate to intense daily exercise can be an effective secondary anti-depressant treatment for both men and women. The effectiveness is different depending on gender, but 30 percent of participants were able to recover fully by adding exercise in with their initial medication.

The four year study began in 2003 and included participants who have been diagnosed with depression for at least seven years. The participants are between the ages of 18 and 70 and were separated into two groups that differed in level of intensity for exercise routine. The exercise routine lasted for twelve weeks.

The exercise routine consisted of running on a treadmill, cycling or both. The participants kept an online dairy of frequency and duration of exercise sessions. They also wore heart-rate monitors when they exercised at home.

An additional 20 percent of participants showed great improvement. Men improved with higher rates of exercise while women who had a history of mental illness showed better improvement with moderate exercise and women with no history showed more recovery with intense exercise.

Treatments of depression need to be tailored to each individual because these results show that gender, history and other specific characteristics of the patient plays a role in how well exercise can benefit them, Dr. Trivedi says.

James Crowell, fitness expert, says, "I have people that come in that may feel depressed but when they get in here, get on a program, create goals, and start to see some positive progress they very often feel much better emotionally."

The research is published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 29, 2011
Last Updated:
August 31, 2011