Walking Away Depression
Duke University researchers say a brisk walk or jog around the track three times a week may be just as effective in relieving the symptoms of major depression as taking anti-depressant medications.
The study looked at 156 patients diagnosed with major depressive disorder who were prescribed exercise, medication or a combination of both. A study spokesman says that after 16 weeks individuals in all three groups experienced statistically significant and similar improvement.
Writing in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the spokesman says exercise may be just as effective as medication -- and in some cases a better alternative for patients suffering severe depression. Why exercise provides such a major benefit remains unclear but patients who took the anti-depressants saw their symptoms relieved sooner. But by 16 weeks, the group differences had disappeared.
It's possible the structured and supportive atmosphere of the program helps. And researchers suggest such exercise may help patients get a "sense of mastery" over their condition, giving them a feeling they are taking an active role in trying to get better.
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