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Physical exercise: An important tool for managing depression

Physical exercise: An important tool for managing depression

10 November | 0 Comments | By Arizona Mental Health Helpline Team

One of the most widespread form of depression is major depressive disorder (MDD) afflicting more than 16 percent of U.S. adults in 2014, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). MDD can be characterized as mild, moderate or severe depending on the severity of the symptoms, functional impairment, and degree of stress. On an average, one-third of patients with MDD are severely depressed, which means their depression is difficult to treat, they have poor treatment response and a high rate of remission. MDD is associated with a very high rate of morbidity and reduced life expectancy, therefore, targeted treatments are urgently needed.

Several studies reveal that physical exercise is one of the key non-pharmacological tools for treating depression.  Along with medication and psychotherapy, it can act as a valuable adjunctive treatment.

Exercise induces positive effects by facilitating release of endorphins in the central nervous system, by bringing about a change in the level of serotonin and norepinephrine, by increasing body temperature and inducing a relaxed state. In addition to the physiological and neurological benefits, exercise also exerts profound psychological changes.

Benefits of physical exercise

Some of the ways in which exercise helps reduce depression are:

  • Boosts self-esteem: Being regular at any form of exercise can help maintain fitness. This can be a source of accomplishment for an individual, giving a major boost to his/ her confidence.
  • Improved sleeping patterns: Regular exercise is not only good for the waistline and the cardiac health of a person, it can also greatly improve the quality of sleep. Exercising for at least 150 minutes a week can help an individual stay alert during the day and enjoy a good night’s sleep.
  • Better social interactions: While one can opt for an individual or a group activity, the latter can help immensely in developing social skills.
  • Better coping mechanisms: Regular exercise paves the way for stronger resilience. It strengthens the mental faculty of a person such that he or she no longer wants to resort to unhealthy practices like alcohol consumption, binge eating, etc., when faced with daily challenges. Regular exercise can help boost the immune system increasing resistance to stress and illnesses.

Active people less susceptible to depressive episodes

​If done on a regular basis, exercise can act as a powerful tool in managing depression. Its positive effects are at par with pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy. Multiple studies validate that in comparison to sedentary individuals, active ones are less susceptible to depression. Further, interventional studies have endorsed that exercise is extremely beneficial in subsiding depressive symptoms. Even though the ideal duration and intensity to alleviate the symptoms is yet to be established, it has been stressed that aerobic exercise, as well as strength training are extremely helpful.

Moreover, with an increasing penetration of social media and smartphones in the lives of an individual, it has become impossible to stay disconnected from the world, resulting in a lot of depression across all age groups. Disconnecting from the virtual world and exercising even for a couple of minutes can greatly help in keeping the worries at bay and relaxing the mind.

Beat depression by adopting an active lifestyle

Exercise plays a significant role in early recovery from depressive symptoms. If you or your loved one is battling depression, consider adding some form of exercise in your daily routine to alleviate the symptoms. However, it is advisable to always seek professional help so that an optimum treatment plan can be designed, specific to the individual’s needs. This can be easily achieved by seeking support from mental health treatment centers in Arizona.

The professionals at the inpatient mental health treatment centers Arizona will ensure that the type and duration of exercise do not push the individual beyond their threshold. You can make an active lifestyle choice right away by calling the Arizona Mental Health Helpline number 866-606-7791 or chatting online with our treatment experts. They will help you connect with trained medical professionals and ensure that you reach your desired physical and mental well-being at the earliest, with reduced risk of relapse.

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