Depression is a common and disabling illness, affecting over 100 million people worldwide. Depression can have a significant impact on people’s physical health, as well as reducing their quality of life. Research has shown that both pharmacological and psychological therapies can be effective in treating depression. However, many people prefer to try alternative treatments.
Some NHS guidelines suggest that exercise could be used as a different treatment choice. However, it is not clear if research actually shows that exercise is an effective treatment for depression.
Exercise is moderately more effective than a control intervention for reducing symptoms of depression, but analysis of methodologically robust trials only shows a smaller effect in favour of exercise. When compared to psychological or pharmacological therapies, exercise appears to be no more effective, though this conclusion is based on a few small trials.
This is an extensive review of the science ...
Exercise may have a moderately beneficial effect on depressive symptoms, according to an updated literature review and meta-analysis.
However, investigators note that more high-quality studies are needed to elucidate the type and intensity of exercise that may be most effective and whether these benefits are durable.
"Our review suggested that exercise might have a moderate effect on depression," review author Gillian Mead, MD, of the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, said in a statement.
"We can't tell from currently available evidence which kinds of exercise regimes are most effective or whether the benefits continue after a patient stops their exercise program," she added.
Medscape Article on this topic....