How Exercise Beats Depression
Exercise is one of the most powerful factors in treating and beating depression.
This podcast will be looking at why this is the case and how to use exercise to beat depression.
Background from Back from the Brink:
Between August 2006 and January 2007, a link was established from the depressioNet website inviting visitors to participate in an online survey (read more). The URL for the survey was publicised in media articles throughout November. The survey was completed by 271 people.
Prepared and managed by Ultrafeedback, the survey sought to find out what people living with depression would ask people that had recovered, if they had the chance. It also asked participants to rate how effective different therapies were in helping with their depression. We then asked them to rate the effectiveness of various lifestyle factors.
While I do not pretend that this survey was conducted in a rigorous scientific manner, I think the results demonstrate some interesting trends which mirror my own experiences.
|Ratings of Effectiveness in Treating Depression|
|1= very low 5= very high|
|2. Support of family and friends||238||3.83|
|3. Counselling therapies (CBT, IPT, etc)||243||3.70|
|4. Fulfilling work||208||3.67|
|5. Relaxation/ meditation||222||3.60|
|7. Alcohol and Drug Avoidance||187||3.54|
|8. Prescription medicine||243||3.51|
|9. Support groups||165||3.41|
|10. Religious or spiritual beliefs||176||3.14|
|11. Contributing to a charity||169||3.08|
|12. Massage Therapy||154||2.72|
|13. Non Prescription Medicines||209||2.19|
|14. Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT)||72||2.04|
|16. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation||40||1.48|
Exercise is the winner in this assessment. This is interesting when you realise it is accessible to all and very inexpensive.
When you consider the epidemic of depression in the western world and the general decline in physical activity, you can’t help thinking there may be a connection.
Support of family and friends and counselling therapies is not very surprising. Some people will be relieved that short-term therapy from registered psychologists is now partly covered by Medicare. Perhaps the most surprising of all the results is the ranking of Fulfilling Work which stresses how important this is to our mental health. When I reflect on my 15 years experience as a recruiter interviewing people, I know there are a lot of people unhappy with their work.
The next group of factors (relaxation/meditation, drug and alcohol avoidance, nutrition, and prescription medicine) are rated so closely together that it is difficult to differentiate between them. It is interesting to note that of the top 10 factors that most help people with depression, eight are lifestyle related. Prescription medicine and counselling therapies are the only exceptions.
The other feature is that many strategies have very similar scores. What this indicates to me is that no one can afford to try just one or two approaches. If you are serious about making progress you should consider the top 10 strategies and determine with expert help which six you will focus on.
Other Helpful Strategies/Things Nominated by Respondents
Pets, Music, Journal Writing, Art, Hypnosis, Kinesiology, Reading, Gardening, Hobbies.
It is clear that many factors positively affect people living with depression. Exercise, the winner, is probably one of the easiest to implement. The eight lifestyle factors in the top 10 show that there is much a person can do to contribute to their own recovery without waiting for medication to work or to have a breakthrough with therapy.