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Future Health

Exercise may work as a substitute for antidepressants

October 22, 2013 

Exercise is hard work, but researchers are finding that its benefits go well beyond weight control, heart health, and boosting the immune system. Exercise also has been found to help fight depression, and even to replace antidepressant medications for some individuals. This is important because many people try to avoid antidepressants because of the well known side effects of weight gain and loss of libido.
This is how it works: brain function depends on neuron actions, and neuron actions depend on the individual's lifestyle. Exercise can change the neurons and accelerate the functions of the brain. In fact, recent research sows that exercise can induce growth of new nerve cells.
Much more research is needed, but preliminary information is that exercise could be an alternative treatment for depression, especially for those individuals who have not been helped by antidepressant medications.
Also, exercise can be added to an existing medication for improved results. In fact, a study reported in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that moderate and intense levels of daily exercise can make the difference in getting individuals with depression to reach remission. According to the report, almost 30 percent of the participants in the study reached full remission from depression, and another 20 percent reached significant improvement.
Ask your health provider about adding exercise to your treatment plan for depression, and whether you might reduce or replace antidepressants with a regular exercise routine.

Check out more of the health benefits of exercise here