Can Regular Exercise Really Help In Reducing The Symptoms of Clinical Depression?

A 9.5% of the adult population in the USA is affected by depression and an estimate shows that almost 17% of the population in America will suffer from major depression at an instance in their lifetime. Depression has been included in the list of leading disability cause in the U.S and an approximate amount of $41 billion is spent each year in finding a treatment for this ailment.

Signs and Symptoms of Clinical Depression:

  • Changes in sleeping patternsHypersomnia or insomnia or waking up in the middle of the night followed by sleeplessness.
  • Rage or irritability. Feeling restless, violent or agitated at all times. This is often followed by lower tolerance levels, short temper and everything might seem like getting on your nerves.
  • Less energy. Feeling physically drained, fatigued or sluggish. Your entire body may weigh on the heavier side and even smaller tasks will lead to exhaustion or take a long time for its completion.
  • Self-hatred. Feelings of guilt and worthlessness. You criticize yourself for the faults and mistakes you have committed in the past.
  • Wild behavior. You may often follow escapism and show signs of involvement in dangerous sports, compulsive gambling, substance abuse etc…
  • Problems with concentration. Trouble in remembering things, lack of focus and concentration.
  • Inexplicable pains and aches. Increase in events like muscle aches, headaches, stomach pain and back pain may be seen.
  • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. An unwelcoming outlook that nothing will get better and you cannot do anything for improving your situation.
  • Disinterest in competing daily chores. A loss of interest in favorite pastimes, hobbies, sex and social activities. Loss of ability of feeling pleasure and joy.
  • Changes in weight or appetite. Rapid weight gain or loss in a month that involves significant changes in the appearance.

Most depression sufferers often look for treatment from their health care providers. In general cases, pharmacologic therapy is offered as a primary treatment option. There are evidences that show the use of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies (CBT is a form of psychotherapy) along with medications (anti-depressants) have helped in improving the condition in various patients. Exercise has helped in generating positive results in case of depression and the symptoms have been alleviated as well.

Recent studies have shown that the mental health can be improved with regular exercise. Exercise also helps the sufferers of depression and prevents them from becoming depressed in the initial stages. Any kind of exercise can be helpful as long as it serves the purpose and suits your body. Exercising should be enjoyed or else it will be hard to stay motivated in the long run.

What Are The General Mental Benefits of Regular Exercising?

Improvement in self confidence is a major benefit that can be achieved by physical activity. Endorphins are released in the body when it is subjected to various physical activities. These chemicals communicate with the brain receptors that reduce the insight of pain.

Endorphins also facilitate positive/constructive feelings, just like morphine. These are a type of analgesics and act as sedatives as well. These chemicals are produced in the spinal cord, brain and various other parts of the body as a result of neurotransmitter- brain chemicals. Endorphins-neuron receptors work like pain medicines, but they are generated naturally. Unlike morphine, these do not cause any kind of dependence or addiction. A complete focus on daily activities and tailoring the exercise routine can render innumerable benefits in recovering as well as improving the lifestyle.

Following are the Benefits:

  • Ease Anxiety, Stress and Reduce Tension: A regular exercise can help you in taking charge of the anxiety as well as reduce fatigue, stress and anger. Exercise can also keep you distracted from all the worries and help you in finding a quiet time. It can also set you out of the cycle that is associated with emotional and mental issues.
  • Relieves Depression and Uplifts the Mood: Endorphins are released with exercise that can keep you energized through the day. Exercise has also helped in treating moderate depression that is as efficient as any antidepressant medication. To avoid relapsing into a depressive event scientists have suggested to be in a constant drive of physical activities.
  • Sharpened Brain Power: The endorphins that have been released as a result of exercising promote the growth of new cells that will increase the brain power in an unusual way. The decline in memory that is a primary sign of growing age can be reduced as well.
  • Boost Self Esteem: Indulging in regular physical activity can be a healthy investment to your mind, body and soul. When you will be habituated to it, your self-esteem will be elevated that can make you feel powerful in an unusual manner. A sense of achievement will be built in your body.
  • Render a Sound Sleep: Even with smaller hours of exercise, the sleeping patterns can be regulated. A gentle stretching or yoga at night can promote sleeping soundly without any breaks.
  • Energy Boost: Your heart beat should be elevated for a few times in a week. Increasing the workout sessions can keep you energized and set you up actively for completing the daily chores.
  • Better Coping Up With The Situations: Exercising is better than relying on any other means like drugs, alcohol and various negative behaviors that can worsen the symptoms. The immune system will also boost with a regular exercise and stress levels will be reduced.

Regular Exercise Also Shows The Following Health Benefits:

  • It brings down the blood pressure effectively.
  • Tones the muscles and strengthens it
  • Builds bones and strengthens it as well.
  • Reduces the unwanted fats in the body.
  • Promotes fitness and a healthy lifestyle.
  • It makes your heart stronger.
  • It elevates the energy level.

Types of Regular Exercises Which Are Better for People Suffering from Clinical Depression

Depression can be reduced using any type of exercise. Below are some moderate exercises that you can include in your daily activities:

  • Biking
  • Garden work
  • Playing Golf (walk instead of using the golf cart)
  • Housework, like vacuuming,mopping, sweeping etc…
  • Slow Jogging
  • Low impact aerobics
  • Playing tennis
  • Yard work, like raking or mowing
  • Yoga Practice
  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Dancing ex: Zumba.

Exercises for People Suffering from Clinical Depression

As getting an immense support socially is extremely important for depression sufferers, it is necessary to join classes. You can also exercise along with a close pal or with your partner as well. This will eventually grant you emotional support as well as gain support in the long run.

How to Perform Regular Exercises When You Are suffering From Clinical Depression?

Most of us find it difficult to be motivated to exercise regularly. When we are struck with depression, stress or other emotional problems, the difficulties can double and triple. Feelings of depression or anxiety can set you in a catch22 situation and you may be trapped in the situation. What should be done at such times?

With exercise, you can eventually feel better and energized from the core:

  1. Begin with Small Goals: When you have not exercised for a long time and are struck in a cloud of emotional thoughts, huge goals may seem hard to fulfill. It is always better to set small goals that are manageable and can help in building your motivation in an unusual way. This way; you can accomplish and eventually climb the ladder.
  2. Pay Attention To The Activities That You Love: Indulge in those activities that will help you in focusing in a better way. This can be as simple as shopping, playing frisbee or cycling to the local grocery store. If you have not loved exercising, these activities can set you up for regular workouts. This is an efficient way to set away the mood disorder and free your mind from all the unnecessary thoughts. The result of such activities will be an energized body and a sound mind.
  3. Schedule and Allot a Specific Time for the Workout Sessions: Indulge in any physical activity that can keep you motivated throughout the day. Allocate the time for your exercise early in the morning so that your day stays energized and you are saved from mid-noon lull hits. You can also indulge on strolling through the sidewalks just to clear your foggy mind and boosting the energy level. Develop a habit and you will eventually love exercising as well as compel yourself to stay active throughout the day. By preparing a schedule for the exercise, you will not be able to fill your mind with unnecessary thoughts.
  4. Be at Ease and Feel Relaxed: Whichever exercise you choose to perform, be sure to wear an outfit in which you feel more comfortable and relaxed. Choose a place like your favorite park so that you can enjoy exercising as well as feel comfortable. This can make you feel calm and relaxed at all times.
  5. Gift yourself after Each Accomplishment: When you reward yourself after every accomplishment, it might keep you in the drive of doing something more. Relish on an appetizing smoothie, watch an episode of your favorite sitcom or take a bubble bath with your favorite fragrance.
  6. Make Exercise your Common Activity: Create a social space for exercising. Involve your colleagues, friends, fellow mates, relatives or a trustworthy person, with whom you can exercise. This will help you in staying active without any ambiguities and keep you motivated for following the exercising pattern. Involving a social group can be of great help as your head will be occupied in positive thoughts that can help you in achieving an emotional balance at all times.
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 1, 2019

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