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Exercise Can Lift Your Spirits!

Symptoms of Depression

Have you lost interest in things that usually give you pleasure? Are you eating too little or too much? Do you often feel worried and sleep poorly? Do you feel hopeless overall? If you've answered yes to some or all of these questions, you might be depressed. 

Symptoms of depression include temporary or ongoing feelings of:

  • Sadness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Loneliness
  • Self-reproach
  • Despair

Exercise as Treatment for Depression

The good news is, there are effective treatments for depression, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychotherapy, antidepressant therapy, and exercise! 

Studies show that exercise can be as effective as drug therapy in some patients. Researchers at Duke University, for example, studied exercise and its effect on depression in 156 subjects aged 50 years and older. The participants were divided into 3 groups—one that included people who exercised 3 times a week for 45 minutes, another group that included antidepressant treatment without exercise, and a third group that included antidepressant treatment and exercise.1

Results of the study showed that all patients experienced significantly fewer symptoms of depression, with very little difference in therapeutic effect between the groups. By the end of the study, 60% to 70% of participants “no longer met criteria for a major depressive disorder." After 6 months, however, participants in the exercise group maintained their positive outlook compared with patients from the medication group. In addition, fewer than 10% of the participants who exercised had recurrent depression compared with 40% of the medication group as well as 30% of subjects who received both medication and exercise. As a result, the researchers concluded that exercise appeared to be an effective approach for treating depression.1

Whether or not it's the release of endorphins associated with physical activity that helps elevate mood, many people who exercise regularly agree that it gives them more energy, helps them sleep better, helps lower their blood pressure and cholesterol, helps them maintain a healthy weight, and makes them feel calmer.  

If You are Feeling Depressed

If you have mild, moderate, or severe symptoms of depression, see your doctor. He or she will ask you questions, review your medical history, help determine what's causing your depression, and plan a course of treatment that's right for you.

Ask your doctor about including exercise in your treatment plan. Whether it's walking, running, swimming, or taking a dance class,  choose an exercise you enjoy so that you'll come back for more! Remember there's no quick fix for feeling down, so keep your new routine going to avoid falling back into the blues.

Learn tips to help you maintain your exercise routine.

When exercise alone isn't enough to help you beat the blues,
cognitive behavioral therapy often can help.
Our experienced psychologists, psychiatrists, and licensed social workers
at the Summit Medical Group Behavioral Health and Cognitive Therapy Center
can develop a practical and achievable treatment plan
that is tailored to your needs and builds on your strengths. 

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For more information or to schedule and appointment
with the Summit Medical Group Behavioral Health and Cognitive Therapy Center,
call us today at 908-508-8909.
We offer day and evening hours for your convenience.



1. Bayak M, Blumenthal JA, Herman S, et al. Exercise treatment for major depression: maintenance of therapeutic benefit at 10 months. Psychosom Med. 2000;62(5):633-638.