The Effects of Exercise on Depression are Tremendous and Far Reaching
I have been a psychiatrist in Scottsdale since 2001 and I always include an exercise component in treating depression and most all other mental illnesses. The effects of exercise on depression is of great interest because depression is a serious and sometimes debilitating mental illness. Most of the time there is no single cause of depression, but rather a combination of factors that bring on depression. The effects of exercise on depression has often been discussed as a way of dealing with minor depression and anxiety; however, its effects on the body are far greater than merely “blowing off steam”. Exercise effects the release of neurotransmitters and hormones into the system and effects our mental health in more ways than just one.
The Effects of Exercise on Depression Go Well Beyond Treating Depression and Effect our Entire Well-Being
Your body needs exercise to function at optimum levels; however, most of our lives have become quite sedentary. In the days of old, a hard day’s work on the farm or factory was common among many Americans and not surprisingly we didn’t see as much of insomnia, anxiety, and depression that we do today. All of the gadgets that were supposed to make life easier have only made things more complicated, competitive, and created demands on our lives that were never experienced in previous generations.
Most people do not get the recommended amount of exercise and our bodies will suffer because of it. Not only is obesity a major problem, but other issues such as diabetes, heart disease, lung capacity, energy levels, depression, anxiety, and other health problems arise from a lack of exercise.
When you’re unhealthy your stress levels increase, hormones decrease, brain chemistry struggles to increase levels of serotonin to fight off the stress and physical problems. For example the best way for men to increase their testosterone levels is by weight resistant exercise; many believe that this even surpasses the patches and creams that are available for testosterone replacement. The chemical makeup of your body changes because fat metabolizes chemicals and hormones a lot differently than muscles. These things combined with other risk factors can cause depression, but the effects of exercise on depression can prevent these depressive episodes.
Researchers believe that the effects of exercise on depression can increase the release of certain neurotransmitters in your brain. These neurotransmitters directly affect your moods. Exercise also releases hormones known as endorphins. By the way if you force yourself to laugh and smile more you will also increase the endorphins and serotonin in your system. These hormones are known as the feel good hormones. They can reduce pain, increase mood and help alleviate stress. Regular exercise will also ease tense muscles and help you sleep better, which in turn can help reduce the levels of the stress hormones, called glucocorticoids. This exercise and healthy diet is highly recommended for women who are at a higher risk for depression during and two years after menopause.
Exercise Can Often Prevent Minor Cases of Depression and Anxiety
The recommended amount of exercise is 30 minutes a day, three to five days a week. If this is not attainable for you, try starting out small with just 10-15 minutes of exercise each day. This is about taking baby steps to build your confidence and physical stamina. The more that you exercise, the longer your sessions will become. As your body begins to get back into shape and you start feeling better, you may notice that you will feel less depressed. You may even start looking forward to your exercise time. But before you start any exercise program, see your family practice doctor and get his or her recommendations on a safe exercise routine. In minor cases of situational depression, a good exercise routine and diet might be all it takes to take the edge off of your symptoms; in the case of clinical depression, exercise is a fantastic augmentation treatment to your medication. As your body becomes more efficient, so does the therapy. The effects of exercise on depression and mental health including anxiety are great and should never be overlooked or played down. Read more about the effects of exercise on depression from WebMD or start to exercise and take note how you feel after a brisk workout. Most of us notice the “endorphin rush” from a good cardio-workout or run; try it yourself and see if you can notice or feel an effect on your mood. If exercise alone is not alleviating the symptoms of depression and you are seeking an experienced Scottsdale psychiatrist, please call my office to schedule an appointment. I have acquired a great deal of discernment through my clinical experience and continuing education as I stay on top of the latest breakthroughs in psychiatry.