How Effective Can Exercise be In Relieving Depression?

Physical activity has always been an important part of a mental health treatment regimen. However, some mental health professionals fail to lay adequate emphasis on the specifics of physical activity while dealing with a patient with mental illness. This sentiment was shared by some experts from the mental health treatment landscape who then conducted a study on a similar topic.

According to the study by Michigan State University and University of Michigan, more mental health professionals should consider including exercise in their treatment plans to help patients recover. The study, published in the journal General Hospital Psychiatry (GHP), was conducted on 295 patients undergoing treatment at a mental health facility. The researchers recorded patients’ responses to questions on how exercise affected their mood and anxiety, and if they wanted to be more physically active. Patients were also asked if they wanted their health providers to help them become more active.

The findings suggested that eighty-five percent patients wanted to exercise more while more than 80 percent acknowledged the effectiveness of exercising in helping improve their mood and anxiety. Nearly 50 percent wanted a one-time discussion about physical activity with their therapists. Many participants longed for an ongoing advice on the same from their doctors.

Combining treatment with physical activity

The study reported an impaired ability to exercise in more than half of the participants with mood and behavior disorders. According to the researchers, physicians and therapists should offer additional support to these patients and encourage them to increase their physical activity levels for early recovery.

Physicians could offer physical activity programs inside the mental rehabilitation facilities to improve the mental and physical wellbeing of patients, advised researchers.

Researchers also emphasized on the need of combining mental health treatment programs with fitness programs to help patients increase their physical activity level. They urged psychiatrists and other health providers to talk to the patients about the importance of exercise. They can also support patients in creating a comprehensive exercise plan while encouraging them to adhere to a specific goal. While therapists may not have the requisite expertise to prescribe physical activity as part of their mental health practice, they can team up with certified personal trainers to offer specialized advice on physical activity in the clinic setting.

Marcia Valenstein, senior author and professor emeritus in psychiatry at U-M, suggested that the efforts allowing easier access to physical activities services to both therapists and patients could help more patients manage their depression and anxiety better. In addition, exercise is also known to help improve self-esteem and reduce depression levels.

Treating depression

Depression is a common but serious mood disorder, which may affect how a person thinks, feels or performs daily activities, including eating, working, and sleeping. If left untreated, depression may cause severe complications including suicide and other forms of fatalities. Therefore, if you know anyone who looks hopeless or shows other possible signs of depression, help him or her get immediate medical attention.

The 24/7 Mental Health Helpline can help you connect to a credible mental health rehabilitation center offering best-in-the-class treatment even in these testing times. You can get in touch with us by calling our 24/7 mental health helpline 855–653–8178 to know more about a mental health rehabilitation helpline center. All our network partners follow strict COVID_19 guidelines to ensure that our patients remain safe.