Know About Exercise's Powerful Role in Depression

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Raena Morgan:  You heartily recommend exercise as a way to recover from depression.  Tell us some of the benefits in that area.

Dr. Timothy Scott:  I heartily recommend exercise as just one of many, many things one can do.  Exercise alone will not get you over depression, but when I look at the research and my favorite studies in this area come from Duke University...

Morgan: OK.

Scott: the Department of Psychiatry there.  They simply compared exercise and antidepressants.  They assumed that if you exercised plus took an antidepressant, you would get over depression better than simply an antidepressant.  They were very surprised by their own findings, I will tell you.  What they did, they had three groups.  They had an exercise only group.  An antidepression only group and an group that took antidepressants and exercise.  

Morgan:  That's what they bet their money on, that one, right?

Scott: Yeah, that's what they assumed would work.  And of course at 16 weeks, what they found was the exercise group did as well as the group on antidepressants.  What surprised them was at 10 months.  The exercise only group outperformed the other groups.  And you say, well how can that be possible?  The other groups have the antidepressant plus they're exercising.  The answer is very simple.  There are real adverse effects brought on by antidepressants.  Long-term use really does begin to take it's toll.  There are health consequences, plus there are probably some psychological things going on there.  When you're exercising only, you know you're doing it, not a pill, you're doing it.  That makes you feel good about yourself.  Of course there may also be some benefits by simply participating with others in exercise.  You have social contact.  You may actually be meeting some goals or maybe some weight loss issues here, you definitely feel better because your health is improving.  So, we don't know all of the reasons of the why, but we know that anyone on an antidepressant, ought to be aware of the exercise research, because it says in the short term you can do as well and in the long term you can do better than that drug. 

Morgan:  It means exerting yourself though, instead of taking a pill though...

Scott: It does.

Morgan:  And that's a psychological thing right there.

Scott:  That's true.  And in fact, in my part three of America Fooled, where I deal with depression and how to get over it without the drugs, one of the many things that I say there is be more disciplined.  We have a body of research on those who are undisciplined.  Undisciplined people are more likely to lose jobs, more likely to hit a spouse when their angry, more likely to have all kinds of problems.  All kinds of problems.  A more disciplined person is less likely to get depressed for those kinds of reasons.  So I encourage people to increase their level of discipline.  And of course surveys of Americans find that most people know they need to be more disciplined.  


Dr. Timothy Scott discusses the importance of regular exercise in people suffering from depression. Find out what some studies revealed in relation to exercise, antidepressants and how they affect depression.

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