Scientists continue to probe the causes of depression and are actively seeking ways to not only treat it, but decrease the prevalence and prevent depression.
A study published recently in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, by George Mammen, found that moderate exercise not only treats depression but may actually help to prevent a person from experiencing depression.
For decades, exercise has been recognized as a key factor in overall good health, both physical and mental. However, Mammen’s study sought to collect quantitative data to establish a stronger correlation and provide additional information that mental health professionals can use when attempting to treat patients suffering from depression.
By taking data from more than 26 years of research studies related to depression, Mammen was able to show a strong correlation between moderate exercise and reduced incidence of depression.
The study found that even low levels of physical activity (light work and walking each day, 20-30 minutes per day) helped to decrease depression symptoms. When exercise was increased to a more moderate level, the benefits become even more significant.
Mammen and other researchers indicate that with a healthcare system that is being stretched, evaluating the benefits of exercise can help to lessen the need for certain expensive prescription medications and perhaps alleviate some of the pressure on mental health professionals to find a magic cure.
Says Mammen, Our health system is taxed. We need to shift focus and look for ways to fend off depression from the start. We need a prevention strategy now more than ever.
There are many causal factors for depression, and it is acknowledged that exercise may not be the only answer. With genetic and environmental factors playing an unknown role in many cases, careful diagnosis and treatment is certainly indicated.
However, those who are active should continue to exercise, and those who are inactive should strongly consider adding exercise to their lives.