Exercise: A Possible Depression Treatment

Severe depression has often been approached as a very difficult condition to treat, even with the aid of psychoactive drugs. Even with all of our modern-day medical advances, remission may only occur in about half of patients who are treated with antidepressants. In order to stem the adverse effects of this life-altering condition, medical experts have been looking increasingly into the benefits of exercise for the past few years. Although there is no truly conclusive evidence that exercising can help a patient "cure" his or her depression, becoming more active is recommended by many medical professionals as an excellent complement to other medical treatments.

There are many reasons why researchers think that exercise might be able to alleviate the symptoms of depression. For example, moving around more can cause your body to release more endorphins, which can make you feel happier. Activity can also spur an increase in body temperature that can have a short-term soothing effect on the mind. While these benefits will wear off after a short period of time, you may also be able to reap more long-term benefits from a regular workout regimen. Exercising can improve the way you see yourself, making you less likely to be self-conscious about your body. It can also provide you with welcome breaks from everyday stresses by giving you an hour or two of distraction every day.

Of course, even with all of these benefits in mind, it can be difficult for someone who is depressed to make a drastic change in their current routine. The good news is that you don't need to approach exercise as solely something that requires weights, special equipment, or a visit to the gym. Instead, think of it merely as physical activity, the likes of which can include everything from household chores to running errands at work. While something as mundane as tending a garden, taking the stairs at work, or parking a little further away from the store when you go shopping won't get you in marathon running condition, it can certainly help you become a more active person. Plus, if you choose small activities and work them into your daily routine, you're much less likely to fall off the wagon later down the road. As an added bonus, setting goals for yourself - even if they're smaller ones like washing the car - and achieving them can provide a much-needed morale boost on more difficult days.

If you're thinking about exercising, remember to think of it in a positive light by patting yourself on the back as you accomplish your goals. Don't beat yourself up if you miss exercising for a day; simply commit yourself to beginning your routine again as soon as possible. Feeling like you "failed" to complete your routine will only serve to set you back on your goals. If you plan to include manageable activities and you truly commit yourself to the cause, you can improve your physical health and appearance while possibly alleviating the psychological issues that confront people with depression.

Peg Smith is an experienced writer who has written for a number of notable publications. As a lifestyle expert, Ms. Smith can offer advice on a multitude of topics, including health and wellness (

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