Exorcising Depression with Exercise
Depression. I abhorred it! Depression is described by this author as a mood infirmity, from perdition, that instigates a tenacious sensation of bleakness, despondency, obscuritas, felo-de-se, and causes you to quail in tears. Medical professionals call it a major depressive disorder or clinical depression-A Rose by any other name… It affects your entire life. No avenue of existence is immune to [its] effects. It infiltrates how we feel, think, and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical issues. And it needs to be exorcised and exercised.
Depression. Ay, I knew they well. I still grieve with [it] from time to time but the frequency and length have exponentially diminished. The once elongated anguishing protracted stretches of torment into the fleeting darkness of time without a finale in sight have been vanquished. Yes, I am free from that bane. But, full disclosure, I do not take medication to keep depression in its murky dank abyss. But how, you may ask? Well, it wasn’t easy, but it is accessible and the only side effects are less body fat, better mood, clearer skin, fit body, lab work…spectacular, nice butt, new wardrobe, etc., What is this miracle cure? Proper nutrition and exercise! I went from not wanting to belong to this mortal coil to loving each day and fell in love with helping others.
Depression ≠ Weakness
An episode of depression can be extensive and more than just a bout of the melancholies. You can't merely "snap out" of it. Some, including myself, have felt shame associated with our affliction. Society must bear most of the blame; depression still isn’t widely accepted as a valid form of illness. Depression has been linked to weakness as well. When the opposite is true. Try going through your day - work, family, friends, commitments, chores, etc. all the while trying to keep your feelings under wraps, that’s toughness!
Treatments A La’ Mode
Depression cuts a devastating path leaving in its wake - high morbidity, disability, and mortality. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 350 million people suffer with depression worldwide. During 2020, depression rose the second largest illness after heart disease, causing a great burden on families, society, and the individuals themselves. There are many modern-day applications that tout ‘real’ therapy and solutions to an innumerable of emotional and mental disorders, just choose 1 for depression or 2 for anxiety and depression. Please, be careful. Currently, drug therapy is the main management of depression, but it is mucked and muddled by side effects, addiction, and astronomical prices. Drug treatment continues to fail, yet this is the main recourse. Until I came along.
Exercise > Depression
I believe proper, consistent exercise and nutrition can cure depression. I am a prime example. I must state that there are cases of clinical depression where medication is warranted, no doubt. But even then, incorporating exercise can only enhance the effects of the medication. This advice seems to be common sense but in today’s sedentary world, physical movement is a second thought. Studies have confirmed, exercise can help alleviate depressive symptoms, with analogous effectiveness to prescription drug treatment and other psychological interventions. Prolonged depression can change the shape of the brain. Often these feeling are so engrained that it seems impossible to change. The changes in brain plasticity may be a main reason for the sustained depression.
Randomized controlled experiments have shown that aerobic exercise, resistance exercise, and mind‐body exercise can improve depressive symptoms and levels. The intensity and long‐term effect of exercise are now topical research issues. Exercise has been proven to reshape the brain structure of depression patients, activate the function of related brain areas, promote behavioral adaptation changes, and maintain the integrity of hippocampal and white matter volume, thus improving the brain neuroprocessing and delaying cognitive degradation in depression patients. Imagine your brain is like modeling clay, you can shape it anyway you desire within your hands. Your hands in this case will be exercise, nutrition, and positive thinking. These 3 work together to reshape your brain, ridding yourself of the old, depressed brain.
Exercising My Demons
So, what type of exercise is beneficial. Seems like a trick question – as for, all movement is beneficial in some form. For this instance, the answer is a combination of strength and aerobics. Studies have concluded, “The most common physical exercise protocol adopted to reduce the consequences of major depressive disorder in humans was the prescription of aerobic exercise [by a certified trainer]. Physical exercise brings mental health benefits and plays a crucial role in avoiding the development of major depressive disorder”.[i] Numerous studies are underway also including strength training as a part of a healthy lifestyle. Strength training has had a bad repute for being exclusive to the ‘beefy’ crowd. This is utter nonsense. Everyone, especially us in advancing years, will benefit greatly from the addition of strength training.
Where do you go from here? Start by making a commitment to yourself that you will take charge of your life and live the healthiest life you can live. Then seek assistance from professionals. Depression should never be taken lightly. This aliment can be cured, but guidance, patience, fortitude, and consistency are preponderating. Always get clearance from your doctor before starting a workout program and obtain guidance from a certified personal trainer. (preferably me 😉) I have experience with depression and exercise. I have a lifetime of experience with both. Please, contact me if you would like to free yourself from the prison called depression. There is hope.
[i] De Sousa, R.A.L., Rocha-Dias, I., de Oliveira, L.R.S. et al. Molecular mechanisms of physical exercise on depression in the elderly: a systematic review. Mol Biol Rep 48, 3853–3862 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11033-021-06330-z