Study: Exercise fights depression as much as drugs

Study: Exercise fights depression as much as drugs
(Source: WOIO)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Millions of Americans suffer from depression and turn to antidepressant medications for help. But now there's new evidence about how exercise can be just as effective.

The study shows a surprising chemical change to the brain when the body gets active.

Dr. Jane Erb, Director of the Depression Center at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital, says researchers are learning more about the power of exercise for treating depression - a therapy that, in some cases, can even take the place of antidepressant drugs. She explains, "It's really just been over the last couple of decades that there's been more focused sort of clinically validated trials that have established that there truly are appreciable effects that go well beyond placebo."

It's well known that exercise causes the release of chemicals in the brain which bring about feelings of euphoria -- the so-called runner's high. But there may be other physiological things happening, as well. A recent study published in the journal "Cell" found mice specially bred to contain high levels of a chemical released during exercise seemed resistant to depression brought about by stress.

The important thing, Erb said, even for those with major depression, is to try to keep moving, adding "anything one can do to try and counter the forces of depression, when the depression is just getting bigger - and particularly if medications aren't working - the more it can kind of help keep reins on that vicious circle."

Research reportedly shows that as much as exercise is shown to combat depression, though, it's way under used for mild to moderate depression.

Exercise makes you feel better about yourself -- the experts will say again and again. You can see how that would be the first step to pull out of depression.

It's suggested your exercise of choice be something you really like doing from running and biking to gardening and golfing.  It's also suggested for those really suffering depression to find a partner to exercise with or join an exercise group.

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