Alternative treatments for depression – Part 2: Be active to ward off negativity

“Keep yourself busy if you want to avoid depression. For me, inactivity is the enemy.” These words by English comedian, screenwriter, actor and singer Matthew Lucas highlight how being active helps cope with depression.

Many pharmacological therapies are recommended to treat depression; still one finds it difficult to get free of the vicious cycle of chronic depression that makes it difficult to lead a normal life. Though medications and psychological interventions offer many benefits, self-help coping mechanisms have also been found to be effective in treating mood disorders that arise out of prolonged depression.

Physical activity helps fight mood disorders

A healthy body houses a healthy mind and being active is the best way to stay fit. Many believe that strenuous exercise is synonymous to being active, but this is not true. One needs to find ways of keeping both the body and mind active to help maintain conditions related to overall well-being.

Physical activity helps in fighting depression and in decreasing anxiety levels and mood disorders. Though scientists have not been able to point out the association between anxiety, depression and exercise, prior researches have established the positive effects of physical activity in easing their symptoms.

Researchers suggest that physical activity helps in bringing about certain chemical changes in the brain which, in turn leads to positive mood. Exercise or other means of staying active also helps reduce immune system chemicals that aggravate the risk of depression.

An increasing in the body temperature while getting engaged in some form of physical activity has calming effects on the mind. Also, good health augments the sense of self-worth, helps manage self-control and increases the cognitive ability to meet any challenge.

Even light exercise helps

For starters, light physical activity may include hitting the dance floor or grooving to popular music. Physical activity for beginners may also involve running, swimming, brisk walking, cycling or joining a rock climbing club.

One need not indulge in some structured exercise program to stay active. Normal physical activity and organized regular exercise have the same positive effect on mood. Prior studies have indicated how even regular walk can help improve mood.

Fitness activities like playing basketball, running for long intervals, lifting weights, gardening, or getting engaged in household occupations, among others, have the same effect in uplifting mood as indulging in routine exercise.

Light exercise has many emotional benefits. Boosting self-confidence by getting back in shape, using exercise as a kind of distraction to take the mind off incessant worries, increasing social interaction during group exercise sessions are some of the positive effects.

Important to stay positive

Adopting an escapist attitude towards problems or feelings of depression does not help. Some people tend to adopt unhealthy habits like drinking or taking to substances to rid themselves of the haunting feelings of depression.

Though self-help strategies help in recovery from depression by inducing positivity in lives, seeking treatment for depression is necessary. At times, emotions linked to depression are overwhelming and one finds it difficult to shrug off the depressive symptoms even after prolonged involvement in self-help strategies. There is no particular formula for any particular coping mechanism to reduce levels of depression and hence it is advisable to seek professional help.

A balanced lifestyle is key to overall well-being. And sufficient amount of physical activity is an important element of such a lifestyle. Treating a mental disorder needs professional assistance. If you or our loved one is battling some form of mental disorder, get connected to the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline to learn about the best mental health programs in the U.S. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-653-8178 or chat online with one of our mental health experts for instant assistance.