Endorphins are the body’s very own natural antidepressant. Is it possible curing depression with exercise?
Curing depression with exercise
In recent years, clinical researchers have focused more on the mental benefits of physical exercise.
Anyone who has run 10Kor lifted weights knows firsthand the compelling and immediate feeling of endorphin-induced euphoria. We feel uplifted and transparent in our heads, but is it just a transient condition.
A few years ago, researchers from Duke University compared the antidepressant effects of aerobic exercise with the popular antidepressant drug sertraline and a placebo sugar pill. They found that 40 percent of the participants were no longer depressed after four months.
Those who trained or received the drug had higher and comparable response rates and were better than the placebo group. Those who exercised moderately, about 40 minutes three to five days each week – experienced the most significant antidepressant effect. So they interpreted it as exercise was as good as medicine. And in the particular study, the high placebo response meant that non-specific influences such as the patient’s expectations and the attention of the study staff during monitoring visits may have caused the therapeutic response.
Training releases endorphins, the body’s very own natural antidepressant. Exercise releases other neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, which lift the mood. The antidepressants in the study are sertraline, an SSRI, or a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor – it is believed to increase the amount of serotonin. This chemical is lowered under depression.
A chemical that promotes brain health is also reduced in depression. Exercise increases the levels of this neurotransmitter. Maybe an exercise program can increase the level in all of these areas and help forgetfulness.
Several systematic clinical trials of antidepressant medications have shown significantly more effective than placebo in relieving symptoms in people with major depression.