Beat Depression — One Repetition at a Time

Posted on: May 18th, 2015 by Dr. Spencer Baron No Comments


woman lifting weightsSecrets of the mental game

Euphoria, ecstasy, exhilaration!  Wow, sounds like I’m starting a romance novel, yet I’m merely describing what a good workout feels like.  Even Arnold Schwarzenegger referred to exercise in the 1970′s movie “Pumping Iron,” as being as satisfying as having sex with a woman. “And so can you believe how much I am in heaven?”

Yet, why will some of you do what most psychiatrists suggest?

- Increase the amount of psychotropic drugs!

Have you considered the sizeable amount of data showing that exercise exerts a neurochemical effect that is similar to that of antidepressant medications?

Revelation: Sit back for a moment and ponder this question . . .

Which is easier and more cost effective for a physician to do?

  1. Educate you on a patient specific, tailor-made exercise program; or
  2. Write a prescription for one of the top-five most popular medications

Despite the robust evidence indicating the minimum amount of exercise needed to alleviate symptoms of depression in adults, there is still a tendency to prescribe meds that have recently required “Black Box” warnings due to the incidence of side effects.

That’s insane!  Oops, they don’t use that diagnosis anymore . . .

That’s psychopathological!

Can you imagine?  In cases of mild to moderate depression severity, relief was established with an exercise amount consistent with public health recommendations of approximately 180 weekly minutes (3 hours) of moderate-intensity physical activity [Am J Prev Med. 2005].

Is it possible that the average American spends three to five hours per day in front of a computer and/or a TV?  This lack of activity is failing to stimulate vital hormones and the circulation of valuable nutrient to all parts of the body!

Another study showed significantly less depressive symptoms among incarcerated delinquents when 1.5 hours of aerobics were added to their physical activity [J Counsel Psychol. 1982].  Gee whiz, what could that do for someone who acts as if they were chained to their couch by reality TV everyday?

Here’s the secret to compliance:

-  In studies with ADULTS, low, moderate, and high intensities of exercise have all been found to reduce symptoms of depression [Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001].

- Most important for adherence in ADOLESCENTS (especially if they are depressed) is to allow exercise at intensity that they prefer rather than one that is selected for them.

How to increase compliance:

  1. Use training programs that gradually work up to a prescribed amount of exercise.
  2. As fitness increases – allow individuals to complete their exercise in multiple and shorter bouts, compared with more infrequent, longer, continuous sessions.

This is basic stuff, but sometimes we need to see/hear it again.  Is it the discipline you need? Or the knowledge of what to do?

Please comment on your own experiences and share how this information will benefit a family member or friend.

Doc B

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