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In Depression, Exercise is Even more Beneficial than Therapy or Medicine

Exercise is essential for treating mental health since it is affordable, beneficial, and has few adverse effects


According to new research, running may be just as beneficial as pharmaceuticals in treating depression or anxiety. However, experts warn that not everyone will find the solution to be so simple. Researchers from Amsterdam studied the best way to reduce the effects of depression and anxiety. Whether antidepressants or lifestyle changes would have different effects on mental health as well as specific aspects of physical health. In light of the prevalence of these conditions and their negative effects on health.

The study, which was presented on October 6 at the annual conference of the European College, is the first to “compare effects of antidepressants with running exercises for anxiety, depression, and overall health.” The study was published in the Journal of Affective Disorders earlier this year.


In general, antidepressants are secure and efficient. The majority of patients respond well to them. According to research co author Brenda Penninx, a professor of psychiatric epidemiology at Amsterdam’s Vrije University. Antidepressants are typically a wise choice because we are aware that leaving depression untreated results in worse outcomes. However, since not all patients benefit from or are willing to take antidepressants, we need to expand our therapeutic options.

141 people with depression, anxiety disorder, or both were evaluated to compare the effects of running therapy against taking an antidepressant medication, in this case, escitalopram, on these health outcomes. Members of the antidepressant group took their medication over the course of a 16-week study. Whereas those in the running group tried to complete two to three supervised 45-minute group runs each week.

About Exercise

As an additional support to more formal treatments like psychotherapy or medicine for depression exercise has long been valued. According to Karmel Choi, a clinical psychologist and assistant psychology professor at Harvard Medical School in Boston. Choi didn’t take part in the investigation. Here, we can see that, in some situations, exercise may be just as effective as an antidepressant, with less negative side effects and greater positive effects on physical health, according to Choi. She continued, “There are many things to consider when deciding whether general exercise or medicine is appropriate for the treatment of depression or anxiety.

Research Study

According to specialists, a person’s incentive to exercise or worry about potential prescription. Side effects can influence which treatment choice they feel will work best. For the most part, “there is no reason to ask patients to choose only one of these interventions when there is no interaction between them,” wrote Felipe Barreto, adjunct professor of psychiatry and mental health at the Federal University of Santa Maria in Brazil, via email.

The optimum treatment option can be difficult to choose based on studies as well. For instance, the degree of depression varies, but most research “tends to focus on milder forms of depression because they are more common and safer to study,” according to Ben Singh, a research fellow in allied health at the University of South Australia who wasn’t involved in the study.


There is therefore little information available regarding the use of exercise to treat severe depression. According to Parco Siu, an associate professor of kinesiology at the University of Hong Kong who was also not involved in the study. Exercise alone usually isn’t enough for persons with severe mental problem. “Severe mental health typically involves intense symptoms, such as sadness, persistent hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, or an inability to carry out daily tasks,” Singh said. A mix of therapy and intensive medical treatment are often necessary for severe mental health problem.



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