25 Depression and Exercise

Based on Reasearch by James Blumenthal, Ph.D and Michael Babyak, Ph.D.. Psychology Science Minute written by Juanita N. Baker, Ph.D..

Psychology Science Minute brought to you by the School of Psychology at Florida Institute of Technology, I’m Dr. Sarah Arnett.

What have psychologists found to be one of the most powerful treatments of depression?  Everyone has some sadness in their lives, and when sadness persists and becomes severe, a person may be diagnosed as having Depression. Depressed people don’t feel like moving; everything becomes such an effort.

Psychologist James Blumenthal, PhD, and colleagues at Duke University have conducted a number of studies of patients diagnosed with major depressive disorder. They used two treatment conditions: exercise and medication. They compared patients’ response to aerobic exercise only, antidepressant medication only or a combination of exercise and medication. After four and a half months of treatment, patients receiving any of these treatments were significantly less depressed. About two-thirds were no longer depressed (Blumenthal et al. 1999). In a follow-up study by psychologist Michael Babyak, PhD, and colleagues, these same patients were contacted six months after the original study. They found that patients who had been in the exercise only group were more likely to be partially or fully recovered than those who were in the medication or medication plus exercise group (Babyak et al. 2000).

So, though you may not feel like it, one of the best things to do, when your mood is low, is to tie on those walking shoes, and let your feet do the talking!

That’s your Florida Tech Psychology Science Minute. I’m Dr. Sarah Arnett.

Cited Research

American Psychological Association explains more, see: http://www.apa.org/research/action/fit.aspx

American Psychological Association, May 28, 2004

Babyak, M. A., Blumenthal, J. A., Herman, S., Khatri, P., Doraiswamy, P. M., Moore, K. A., Craighead, W. E., Baldewicz, T. T., & Krishnan, K. R. (2000). Exercise treatment for major depression: Maintenance of therapeutic benefit at 10 months. Psychosomatic Medicine, Vol. 62. pp. 633-638.

Blumenthal, J. A., Babyak, M.A., Moore, K. A., Craighead, W. E., Herman, S., Khatri, P., Waugh, R., Napolitano, M. A., Forman, L. M., Appelbaum, M., Doraiswamy, P. M., & Krishnan, K. R. (1999). Effects of exercise training on older patients with major depression. Archives of Internal Medicine, Vol. 159 pp. 2349-2356.

North, T. C., P. McCullagh, and Z. V. Tran. (1990). Effect of exercise on depression. Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews Vol. 18 pp. 379-415.

Additional Sources

Hays, K. F. (1999). Working it Out: Using Exercise in Psychotherapy. Washington, DC: APA.

Hays, K. F. (2002). Move your body, tone your mood. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.

Johnsgard, K. W. (2004). Conquering Depression and Anxiety Through Exercise. New York: Prometheus.

Leith, L. M. (1998). Exercising your way to better mental health. Morgantown, WV: Fitness Information Technology.

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One Comment

  1. Now, when in depression, most of us have the tendency to binge in an effort to mask our feelings or deaden the pain, some of us go as far as soliciting the use of alcohol, drugs or even sex for depression help. Yes, they may give some relief for a while, but when these mere distractions wear off, the symptoms of depression always do come back, and with a vengeance.

    This considered, it will be safe to say the first step of a dietetic factor in regards to depression treatment could be refraining from food, at least for a while friends, really.

    An observance of nature will show us that when animals are frightened or angered, they refrain from eating until after the passage of considerable time. It is true that under stressful circumstances many civilized people refrain from eating and find in truth that they lack the desire for food, but it is also too often that most will eat large meals under these circumstances, which will be mostly disease forming foods to start with, that as a consequence, complicates or altogether halts an already retarded ongoing digestion. This endless cycle leads to even more toxins and poisons in an already encumbered body DEPRESSION TREATMENT AND CHANGING YOUR DIET RESULTS COULD BEAT USING DRUGS

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