Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Physical Activity and Depression

There has been a lot of debate about whether physical activity is an effective treatment for depression. The question is not an easy one to answer since exercise involves several different components - one aspect is behavioral activation (a part of the B in CBT), which is expected to lead to more favorable outcomes in depression. However, the aerobic aspects of physical activity may have favorable effects on neuroplasticity (combating some of the negative effects of depression) and my combat certain symptoms such as the fatigue that can be associated with physical deconditioning. In a recent study, we sought to take a broader view than that of treatment effectiveness and looked at whether participation in physically active recreational activities would offset some of the decline in quality of life that is seen in people struggling with depression. We looked at this question using longitudinal data from the National Population Health Survey and the findings were positive. Physical exercise offset much of the decline in quality of life that was seen in depressed persons. The full text of the paper is available here.