According to a systematic review, exercise may help people suffering from depression. Though further studies are needed to confirm this, the researchers believe that depression can be treated by exercise.
Depression is a mental disorder characterized by low self-esteem, low mood and lack of interest from daily activities. It seems that in depression there are involved several neurotransmitters in the brain: serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine. Depression may be associated with a number of other problems such as anxiety, insomnia, pain, appetite disorders, digestive disorders and even heart disease. It is estimated that worldwide there are approximately 300 million people suffering from depression; even though it is not known why, it seems that depression is the second most common in women than in men ( probably due to a hormonal disorder ).
Drug therapy consists of antidepressant drugs and psychological therapies; however drugs have many side effects, which has led researchers to look for other methods to treat depression. There are several reasons to think that exercise can relieve depression because exercise is a way to distract from negative thoughts and in addition it seems that regulates the level of certain hormones in the body.
To see the role of exercise in treating depression, researchers analyzed 39 trials involving over 2,000 people diagnosed with depression. In 35 of these clinical trials, they focused on the comparison between this treatment and control treatment or no treatment, and they found that exercise has many benefits for people suffering from depression. It was demonstrated (even though in few studies ) that exercise is as effective as antidepressant drugs or psychotherapy.
One of the authors of the review, Gillian Mead of the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences at the University of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, UK, stressed that the review that was carried out suggested that exercise may have a moderate effect on depression. She added that the studies cited cannot tell what exercise regimen is better for patients with depression or whether the benefits will be on the long term. “We can’t tell from currently available evidence which kinds of exercise regimes are most effective or whether the benefits continue after a patient stops their exercise programme,” Gillian said.
However , conducting high quality clinical trials to investigate the role of exercise in treating depression is not easy. It is difficult to conceive what patients were assigned to treatment groups, control groups or no treatment groups. Therefore, researchers have focused on other high quality studies and it was showed that the effect of exercise in treating depression was weaker.