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Exercise versus Medication for Depression

Exercise versus Medication for Depression

 There is a growing number of studies suggesting that regular aerobic exercise is effective as a treatment for major depression.

Here is a summary of one such study, which showed that exercise was just as effective as antidepressants for this disorder:

The study was published in the journal, Psychosomatic Medicine in September, 2007, and compared antidepressant medicine, aerobic exercise (home exercise or supervised exercise), and a placebo pill.

Each subject was randomly assigned to one of these 3 conditions and each condition lasted 4 months. At the end of the treatment period, each subject was re-assessed by questionnaires.

There were 3 results of primary interest:

1) The exercise groups did just as well as the medication group;

2) Both exercise and medication exceeded placebo; and

3) The placebo group showed very good results.

People who have difficulty tolerating the side effects of antidepressant medications may have good results treating their depressive symptoms if they can begin and maintain an aerobic exercise regimen, although even in this case anyone with major depressive disorder should be followed by a therapist, primary care physician, and/or psychiatrist. There are a number of fine therapists in the Denver area who treat major depression.

The positive results of the placebo group are common across many studies of this nature and demonstrate how important it is for depressed patients to expect a positive result from their care.