Running can have a positive effect on mental health. This form of activity – as shown by the latest research – brings effects comparable to those of antidepressants. See what conclusions scientists have reached.
Scientists followed 141 patients suffering from depression and/or anxiety. Participants could choose whether they wanted to continue drug therapy (without running) or start treatment only with running training. There were 45 people in the group that took medications, and 96 in the second group. The study lasted 16 weeks.
Running in the process of treating depression. What does it affect?
Volunteers participating in drug therapy took selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These compounds improve mood and overall well-being. Patients took them under the supervision of a psychiatrist at a dose of 10 milligrams a day. If the specialist found that a given drug did not perform its function properly or was poorly tolerated by the patient’s body, he changed it to another one with a similar effect.
Those who chose to start training participated in 45-minute outdoor running sessions two or three times a week, in accordance with public health recommendations from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. At the end of the study, about 44 percent of people in each group showed symptoms indicating a reduction in depression and anxiety disorders, although the health problems did not completely disappear. Additionally, a decrease in blood pressure, a decrease in waist circumference and an improvement in lung function were observed among runners. However, in people taking the drugs, signs of physical weakness, weight gain, increase in blood pressure and triglyceride levels in the body were observed.
What do the results mean in practice? Running brings many beneficial changes to people struggling with depression and/or anxiety disorders. Physical activity supports the healing process of patients. Simultaneously specialists point out that exercise cannot replace pharmacotherapy. However, it is a great complement to it. It is worth encouraging and motivating patients to abandon a sedentary lifestyle and change their habits. There is no miracle cure that will help everyone who suffers from depression. This problem should be approached individually. The best results, as the authors of the study point out, are achieved by combining several different methods and allowing the patient to choose.
Depression is a civilization problem
In Poland, over a million people suffer from depression. However, official statistics are significantly underestimated. Many people do not admit their problem and do not seek help. It is also important to remember that this disease can have many different faces, which sometimes makes it very difficult to recognize. A person with depression does not have to avoid people or give up participating in social life. On the contrary, she often remains very active, “putting a good face on a bad game.” He pretends to his friends and family that everything is fine, but in fact he is in a lot of pain. If you are struggling with low mood or a sense of lack of meaning in life, do not ignore your emotions and seek help from a psychiatrist, psychologist or psychotherapist.