Monday, February 25, 2008

Wellness Activity 5: Exercise

In yesterday's post, when I wrote about the studies mentioned below, I thought that walking was the only exercise involved, but I was mistaken. So I stand corrected. Still, I am stunned by the results...

According to Psychology Matters, an online publication of the American Psychological Association, in a 1990 study in which a research team did an analysis of 80 studies of exercise and depression, they found, among other things, that "Exercise was a beneficial antidepressant both immediately and over the long term." In this study, walking and jogging were the most frequent forms of exercise tested.

In 1999, psychologist James Blumenthal, PhD, and colleagues at Duke University conducted a series of studies of using exercise (a treadmill and stationary bicycle) and medication for patients who were clinically depressed.

Some patients did aerobic exercise only, some took Zoloft, and the third group took Zoloft and participated in exercise. "After four and a half months of treatment, patients receiving any of these treatments were significantly less depressed. About two-thirds were no longer depressed."

What is most amazing to me is that in a follow-up study six months after the original one, psychologist Michael Babyak, Ph.D and his colleagues "found that patients who had been in the exercise group were more likely to be partially or fully recovered than those who were in the medication or medication plus exercise group." (For more specifics on this study, see the article on McMann's Depression and Bipolar Web.)

Are we getting this? Exercise by itself was more effective than medication alone, or exercise plus medication.


TIV: the individual voice said...

That is pretty amazing. Now with medication-induced lethargy, I need to get myself off the couch.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

TIV: For me, exercise can't end a depressive episode once it's taken hold. But if I started exercising between depressions, and kept at it, I wonder if I couldn't stave it off or at least reduce its impact.

marja said...

I've always had trouble getting my husband away from the computer to go for walks with me. But over the past three days we have walked each day. I can see how walking with someone you love also has a lot to do with improving mood. Now I hope he'll keep going for walks with me. You can't get much better quality time than that.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

I appreciate your taking the time to comment. I know how difficult things must be for you--after the death of your mother-in-law and your best friend's absence. I've been thinking about you, and I'm walking with you in spirit!


marja said...

Thanks, Susan. I'm relieved that I'm healing up quite well - pulling free from the pain. Thank you for your thoughts and concern.

JayPeeFreely said...

Just today, another study pointed out that placebos were nearly as effective as depression medication. That most moderate depressions could be handled without prescribing Prozac or Seroxat. (

Quote: "This means that depressed people can improve without chemical treatments.

"Given these results, there seems little reason to prescribe antidepressant medication to any but the most severely depressed patients unless alternative treatments have failed to provide a benefit."

The study, published in the journal PLoS (Public Library of Science) Medicine, looked at Prozac, Seroxat, Effexor and Serzone and found the drugs were only better than a placebo for some people with severe depression.

Kirsch's team said it was one of the most thorough probes into the impact of new generation anti-depressants or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

But drug companies strongly questioned the findings.

What does that tell us? Maybe the meds route is not to be sought out as the 1st step to wellness. And our drug companies are hiding their less-than-stellar drug trials.