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Exercise can help counter depression as much as medication

A new study from the UT Southwestern Medical Center has found that exercise is just as important to the health of individuals who are suffering from depression as finding an effective medication.

The investigation, which was focused on nearly 18, 000 individuals, revealed that patients who were physically fit at middle ages were far less likely to die from heart disease, even if they suffered from depression.

The research highlights the ways that depression can influence mortality. The study also emphasizes the need for depressed patients to move past feelings of hopelessness and find the motivation to exercise in an effort to combat the negative health impacts of the disease.

Dr. Madhukar Trivedi is the director of the Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care and a co-author of the study.

“Maintaining a healthy dose of exercise is difficult, but it can be done. It just requires more effort and addressing unique barriers to regular exercise,” said Dr. Trivedi. He advises patients to create a consistent exercise routine, track and log progress, and keep the workouts interesting by changing them up.

Dr. Trivedi recommends working out with a partner and enlisting the help of someone to hold you accountable for sticking to your routine. He also says that it is important to not get discouraged after missing a few workouts.

Depression has been linked to other chronic medical conditions besides heart disease such as diabetes, obesity, and kidney disease. For patients with these conditions, exercise may be a better treatment than medication.

“There is value to not starting a medication if it’s not needed,” said Dr. Trivedi. “Being active and getting psychotherapy are sometimes the best prescription, especially in younger patients who don’t have severe depression.”

The study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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