Studies Show Exercise Provides A Short-Term Solution for Adults with Major Depressive Disorder
The first question these two studies looked at is whether exercise can contribute in any way to the calming of depressive symptoms. ABCT's study focused on 24 women diagnosed with MDD. Subjects performed 30 minutes of exercise at differing levels of intensity, prior to which they were asked a series of questions regarding their mood and anxiety levels.
At 10 and 30 minutes after they completed the exercise, their moods and symptoms were again assessed. Women who exercised had an ease of depressive symptoms, while women who had stayed sedentary remained in the same state of mind as they had initially been experiencing.
The Journal of Psychiatric Research's study was comprised of 25 studies conducted on 1487 total adults. This study also supports a strong correlation between exercise and relief of Depression symptoms. The inclusion of men in the study as well as the larger amount of people contributes to the validity of the study in a greater way than in the first study, where the sole focus was a smaller group of women.
Intensity and form of exercise may be key contributors in resolution of MDD symptoms
While the difference between exercising versus not exercising appears significant, the type or intensity of exercise which is most beneficial is still a controversial topic for many experts. According to ABCT's study, women who engaged in light, moderate, and vigorous exercise all experienced relief of symptoms equally across the board.
Despite this finding, experts say that this result could also be due to the fact that each subject was given a task to complete, and the simple completion of any given task could be the cause for the elevated mood, more than just the exercise alone.
This contradicts the data in the first experiment and may be more reliable because the sample size is larger and thus more likely to be representative of the entire population. This data, however, would need more testing in order to be fully verified.
Additionally, those who participated in supervised exercise seemed to have better outcomes than those who were unsupervised. One way an observer can interpret this finding is that oftentimes, treatment for MDD comes through the use of therapists, psychiatrists, etc.
These professionals provide support to people with Depression and other mental illnesses, and trainers or fitness instructors mirror this role by combining physical support with mental support and morale boost.
The testing in this study shows that the combination of high intensity, supervised aerobic exercise would be the most beneficial for patients with MDD.
Experts Say Medicine Doesn't Matter- Antidepressants Do Not Interfere with the Relief from Exercise
Regardless of whether or not the patient was taking antidepressant, exercise was still a stimulus for improved mood. The patients who were not on an antidepressant had more symptoms of the MDD at the baseline stage prior to exercise. Nevertheless, exercise provided relief for both groups.
Overall, exercise has become a generally accepted way to soothe depressive symptoms in a short term situation, while a person can and should simultaneously receive help through means of counseling and antidepressants.