Can Exercise be a Prescription for Depression?

A study was conducted at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas on patients suffering from severe depression.  These patients were currently on prescribed antidepressants and were not responding fully to the treatment.  Usually when this happens, doctors prescribe a second medication, but this is often expensive and only usually works for 20-30% of the patients.

Dr. Trivedi decided to try exercise instead of this second medication.  While one group exercises 10 minutes per day, a second group exercised for 30 minutes per day.  Both groups remained on their one medication for depression.

While only 29.5% achieved remission, it still presents a strong tie between exercise and depression improvements and can be used as a valid treatment option.  Another good point is exercise is less expensive than the second medication that could have been prescribed.  And lastly, exercise has no side effects while the medications might.  Exercise really is medicine!

Trivedi, Madhaukar, M.D, “Prescribing Exercise to Treat Depression.” The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, NY Times.  Aug. 2011.