Friday Fragments: Exercise Cures Depression?

Funny how family reunions used to come once every few years when our group of 27 was able to coordinate schedules. Now, it comes every time someone has a wedding.

Funny how family dinners used to be extravagant events with properly arranged silverware and tablecloths. Now, “family dinner” is every night when Dan and I sit down to a meal and Tracker eagerly sniffs at our food.

Funny how family vacations used to revolve around my dad’s work schedule and our summer vacations. Now, it revolves around what college my sister is interested in visiting…

Case and point: Today, my dad, mom, sister and I are heading down to Arkansas for the weekend. As previously mentioned, Dan has to stay behind and work. I also couldn’t come up with a good excuse to bring Tracker with me, so she’s staying at home, too.

Those are a couple of other funny things. When did I become such a mother to Tracker? And, when did my apartment become “home?”

I guess those are just natural evolutions that come with growing up. I can’t say I’m used to it yet, but I do like the process. It’s exciting to think that a day in the moderately distant future, Dan and I will truly expand our family and truly make our own home.

I don’t know how it will all unfold, but I am eager to see it through.

Friday Fragments: Prescribing Exercise to Treat Depression

The concept of using exercise as a direct treatment for depression was first introduced to me in a personality psychology class last year. Of course, I knew all about “runner’s high” and other mood-lifting effects of exercise. But to see it formally documented? That was new to me.

Now, the topic is gaining some attention with a recent report from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

At first glance, the findings seem to say “yes, exercise does help treat depression.” However, there are some very important caveats that should be recognized.

For example, the study groups were divided between people who were told not to exercise, people who were told to engage in moderate exercise and people who were instructed to exercise strenuously. In the findings, the people who exercised at the moderate level had higher success rates at treating depression than those in the other groups.

The study also admits flaw with getting people to actually stick to an exercise routine.

Finally, and most interesting to me, there was a note that failure rates were highest among women with a family history of depression, “perhaps as a result of some as yet unknown genetic quirk.”

I say that’s interesting to me, because I feel as though I’ve lived it. Even though I have always been big into exercise, it wasn’t enough to keep me from going into depression. Neither was it enough to single-handedly “save” me from it.

No, it took real counseling, introspection and — yes — medication to get me back to feeling like myself.

My point is this: If exercise helps make someone less depressed, that’s truly great. But, if it isn’t the cure-all, it is important to know there are other options out there, which is something my agenda-pushing psychology professor didn’t like admitting.

Off my soap box now.

What do you think?

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One response to “Friday Fragments: Exercise Cures Depression?

  • Lucy Glover

    I agree that many times there is no ‘one’ cure all. It involves a multitude of things. Whether you are treating depression or high cholesterol. Some things just are innate and people like your professor make people feel like failures if they have to take medication. Good post Emily.

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