- Regular exercise regimen in depressed patients key to cut down risk
of death due to heart disease later in life
- Depressed patients can perform up to 75 percent of fitness
exercises that doctors advise them to do
- Depression has been related to many chronic illnesses such as
diabetes, obesity and chronic kidney disease; exercise may be more
effective than antidepressant drugs in such patients
regularly may be just as effective as an antidepressant as well as preventing
death due to heart disease according to a recent study which is a joint effort
between UT Southwestern and The Cooper Institute. Findings of the study appear in the Journal
of the American Medical Association Psychiatry.
chronic diseases can cause depression
and likewise depression can affect a
person's health in many ways such as causing heart disease and premature death.
However it is essential to overcome the feelings of despair and hopelessness and
find the time and energy to exercise. This could improve the overall health of
the patient and reduce risk of heart disease and early death.
‘Exercise and psychotherapy (with counseling) may be as effective as antidepressants in younger patients with mild depressive symptoms.’
"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," says Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, co-author
of the study and Director of the Center for Depression Research and Clinical
Care, part of the Peter O'Donnell Jr. Brain Institute at UT Southwestern.
Details of Study
- The study enlisted 18000
participants from a Cooper Institute database who then had their heart and
lung function assessed at an average age of 50 years.
- The study team used Medicare office
data to check for associations between the patients' fitness levels at
middle age and rates of depression and heart disease later.
- The key findings showed that
participants with high fitness levels were 56 percent less likely to die
due to heart disease even if diagnosed with depression.
Trying to Stay Fit While Fighting Depression
It may not be easy but it can be done.
Previous studies have found that depressed patients can perform up to 75
percent of exercises prescribed for them. Additionally, patients can employ the
following measures to stay motivated and keep fit during depression.
- Find an exercise partner; it is more enjoyable and you are more
likely to continue longterm
- Do exercises at a specific time every day when you are free
- Do not get discouraged by periods of inactivity; restart as soon as
- Maintain a log to keep track of goals and achievements
- Try a different set of exercises each day to break the monotony and
make it more interesting
- Enlist a friend or family member's help to hold you accountable for
following the exercise program
Staying Fit - Beats Depression as well as Heart Disease
Regular exercise and healthy lifestyle
been found to reduce occurrence of depression as well as heart disease. The
reasons for this could be the fact that exercise
improves well-being as well as reduces inflammation
in the body. Studies
have shown lowering inflammation can
have a positive effect on cutting down risk of depression and heart disease.
Scope of Study
- The findings of the study are
especially important in youngsters who are starting a career and are more
likely to stop or reduce physical activity due to pressures of work and
lack of time.
In the words of Dr Trivedi, "This is
the age where we typically see physical activity drop off because they're not
involved in school activities and sports. The earlier you maintain fitness, the
better chance of preventing depression, which in the long run will help lower
the risk of heart disease."
- Many chronic diseases such as
diabetes, kidney disease, arthritis and obesity are associated with
depression. Studies have shown that exercise and counseling are more
helpful in these patients than antidepressants. Giving medications when
they offer no benefit should be discouraged and avoided.
Further studies have been organized to
validate the close interlinking between fitness levels, depression and heart
disease. One such study is the RAD, Resilience
in Adolescent Development
, a 10-year study that plans to enlist 1,500
participants who are at risk to develop depression but are currently
- The study mainly aims to examine
whether personal factors such as lifestyle and biology could play a role
in preventing development of depression in an adolescent
- At the same time, the scientists
will also document fitness levels and see whether depression and heart
disease occur at a later age
In conclusion, the current study
establishes the significant connection between wellness of mind and body and
the importance of physical activity from a young age to promote a healthy mind
and heart as a person
- Benjamin L. Willis, MD, MPH1; David Leonard, PhD1; Carolyn E. Barlow, PhD1; et al JAMA Psychiatry. Published online June 27, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.1467