How physical exercise effects on depression

Why do people become depressed?

Sometimes people suffer from depression caused by external influences, such as a divorce in the family, major financial problem, or the death of a loved one. In addition, a messy internal situation, or break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, could also be the reason.

Teens often react to the pain of depression by getting into trouble with alcohol, drugs or sex, and by breaking relationships with family or friends. This is another reason why it is important to get treatment for depression and deal with it right away, before it gets you into other problems.

Only in the last two decades the depression in children has taken seriously. Children who suffer from depression may become cranky, get into trouble at school, be negative, moody, and feel misunderstood, that there can be serious problems. Because normal behavior varies from one stage of childhood to another, it can be difficult to tell if a child is only going through a time phase, or if he or she is suffering from depression. Sometimes parents become worried about how the child’s behavior has changed. In such a case, child’s pediatrician rules out physical symptoms, the doctor will probably suggest that the child undergo psychiatric evaluation, preferably by a psychiatrist who specializes in treating children.

If a depressed teenager does not know whom to ask for help, a directory operator or phone information can be helpful. They must have telephone numbers of a telephone line or mental health, services or local referrals mentioned. A teenager should be aware that depression can affect people of any age, race, ethnic or economic background, and he or she is not an isolated case.


Dealing with Teenage Depression

First, your child needs to know that he or she is not alone, because there is no help available in case you are willing and ready to ask. And if you know someone who you think is depressing, you can help them by listening. You can also try to encourage your friend to ask a parent or responsible adult about treatment options. If your friend does not ask for help soon, you should talk to an adult of trust and respect, especially if your friend mentions suicide. Most people who are depressed do not, in fact, commit suicide, but depression increases the risk of suicide attempts. Suicidal thoughts, observations, or attempts should always be taken seriously.

Anxiety and physical exercise

From various institutions related to physical exercise and health, Physical exercise improves the functioning of different body systems: the cardiovascular, locomotor, metabolic, endocrine and nervous systems. Thus, for example, its benefits have been described in diseases such as hypertension, asthma, osteoporosis, and diabetes mellitus type II and kidney problems. It prevents coronary heart disease, obesity, lumbar injuries and disc hernias and helps reduce the chance of some cancers. On the other hand, it is involved in the regulation of different bodily functions (sleep, appetite, sexuality).

The effects of physical exercise on the psychological level have been less studied. However, it is known that regular physical exercise helps to improve our mood and increase the sense of well-being. In recent years there have been studies that relate physical exercise to anxiety and depression, suggesting that it could be a suitable natural procedure to contribute to the prevention and treatment of these problems. This chapter will mainly address the relationship between physical exercise and anxiety and what are the mechanisms that attempt to explain this association.

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Physical exercise and effects on mental health

The practice of physical exercise has a beneficial effect on anxiety and improves the mood. These effects have been observed in different ages (children, youth, adults and elderly) and in both sexes. The benefits are appreciated after a punctual session of exercise and also with the regular practice of physical activity.

Studies examining the relationship between physical exercise and depression conclude that regular physical activity has antidepressant effects in patients with mild to moderate levels of depression. However, the relationship between physical exercise and severe depression, which is believed to be of limited efficacy as part of the treatment, is unknown.

Most studies on the relationship between physical exercise and anxiety conclude that punctual exercise practice may reduce the level of anxiety state (anxiety reaction experienced a specific and limited situation).

Also, some studies indicate that regular exercise may reduce trait anxiety levels, that is, the general anxiety related to biological factors and personality of people predisposed to be more anxious, impressionable, with a tendency to overestimate the Risks and maintain a high alert level.

Perhaps the most studied disorder in this regard is panic disorder. Many people with this disorder are afraid of the physical symptoms that accompany a panic attack: tachycardia, hyperventilation, sweating, etc. And are hypervigilant: they are very attentive to any small variation in their heart rate, sweating, breathing … People with panic attacks tend to misinterpret and catastrophic feelings related to anxiety, considering that these feelings can be harmful at the physical level. The practice of physical activity involves the activation of the whole organism and, with it, the activation of the circulatory system, respiratory, etc. Some people with this disorder do not engage in physical activity (eg, having sex, going to a fairground, dancing or doing sports, for example) because they fear that after a high effort they may have a seizure again. Could not be farther from the truth. In a meta-analysis performed on 15 papers published since 1987, out of 420 patients with panic attacks, only 5 had a panic episode during exercise (O’Connor, Smith and Morgan, 2000), and it was most likely due to which they assimilated the symptoms of the physical exercise to those of the anxiety, being frightened of them and being alarmed on way. This and other studies indicate that patients with panic disorder may engage in intense physical exercise with a low risk of experiencing a panic attack. In fact, several studies recommend the therapeutic use of physical activity in a complementary way to the usual treatments or in those patients who are resistant to them (Salmon, 2001). In these cases, however, it is wise to follow the guidelines programmed by a specialist.

Psychological and biological mechanisms associated with physical exercise

Mechanisms that may be involved in the relationship between exercise and anxiety are mainly biological and psychological. At present, the mechanisms that would explain this relationship are not fully understood. Physical exercise would probably work by reducing anxiety levels through several (and not just one) of these mechanisms.

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Psychological mechanisms

Regular physical exercise improves mood. Various studies have shown that it facilitates the management of negative emotions such as anger and rage. On the other hand, it helps improve the quality of sleep.

People who do physical exercise get away from their worries or problems during the activity. It enhances the feeling of strength, security and control over himself and the environment. In this sense, physical exercise helps to improve our sense of self-efficacy.

The practice of physical exercise can improve self-esteem. Changes in the body can improve our body image and make us feel better about our physique. On the other hand, it can also increase the feeling of greater mastery in abilities and physical capacity.

Finally, the practice of physical exercise can be a good opportunity to know and establish relationships with other people. Having social relationships can help in our process of change, by providing social support, distraction from our problems, reinforcement, etc.

Biological mechanisms

Physical exercise improves the regulation of the cardiovascular and respiratory system affecting the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). This improvement could increase the ability of our organism to modulate our reaction to the demands of the environment. In a study by Mussgay, Schmidt, Morad and Rüddel (2003), a significant decrease in blood pressure and heart rate, under stress, was observed by regular aerobic exercise. The authors conclude that exercise could improve the functioning of the ANS.

Physical exercise stimulates the immune system, as it facilitates the elimination of harmful substances from the body, and facilitates the regeneration of the same. It also favors an increase in the number of lymphocytes (white blood cells), decreasing the risk of disease.

The practice of physical exercise produces in the long term an increase in noradrenaline levels, involved in the body’s response to stress, and serotonin. Increased levels of serotonin at the brain level can contribute to improve our mood and reduce anxiety. As discussed in other chapters, drugs that inhibit the reuptake of this neurotransmitter (acting to increase its availability in the synaptic space through which neurons communicate) reduce anxious and depressive symptoms and are effective in virtually all disorders of anxiety. Physical exercise would naturally stimulate the availability of this neurotransmitter. It is also involved in reducing levels of cortisol, a hormone that participates in the body’s response to stress.

Physical exercise stimulates the pituitary gland, for the production of endorphins. Endorphins are hormones linked to neurotransmission functions, involved in the regulation of pain and the feeling of well-being. The natural stimulation of this system through physical exercise can provoke analgesia (less sensation of pain) and improve the mood for its euphorizing and relaxing effects. For this reason, it is also advisable to practice physical exercise for people suffering from diseases that suffer from pain: arthritis, fibromyalgia, etc.

How much physical exercise is needed?

As a general rule, it can be concluded that any type of physical activity, however small and short, is beneficial to our health. There are many papers that have examined how much physical exercise is needed to observe important changes in anxiety levels. Although the data are not conclusive, it is recommended:

That people practice vigorous physical activity on a regular basis.

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They perform more than one activity, practicing both aerobic (swimming, running, cycling) and anaerobic exercises (weights, push ups, stretching …).

It is important to note in this respect that the studies reviewed consider that aerobic physical exercise is more beneficial in reducing anxiety than anaerobic.

The chosen physical activities should be pleasant and pleasant, is the way to get them to be practiced in a habitual way.

Practicing moderate to high intensity exercise three times a week for 30-40 minutes may reduce the level of anxiety. 30-40 minutes of moderate exercise can mean, for example, walking quickly to the workplace, or get off a few stops before the bus and carry out the last leg of our tour. This activity, which could become a normal and healthy practice for our body, can be supplemented with a weekly basketball game with friends, or with a visit to the gym a couple of times a week, or with a workout table in Home while listening to our favorite music. The main idea that is intended to convey with these examples is that physical exercise should be part of our daily life, and for this nothing better than trying to adapt it to our needs and customs. Only in this way will we be able to practice it on a regular basis.

Myths and Facts about Depression


Myths about depression often separate people from the effective treatments available now. Some of the most common myths are listed below, followed by discredit the facts.

Myth: It’s normal for teenagers to be cranky; who do not suffer from real depression.

Fact: Depression can affect people of any age and race, ethnicity or economic group, so every change of mood should be monitored.

Myth: Teens who claim to be depressive are weak and hardly need to regain their spirits; There is nothing that no one else can do to help.

Fact: Depression is not a weakness, but a serious health disorder, and the two young people and adults need professional treatment. A trained therapist or counselor can help you learn more positive ways to think about yourself, change your behavior, and deal with problems. The doctor may prescribe medications to help relieve the symptoms; for many people, a combination of psychotherapy and medication is beneficial.

Myth: Talking about depression only gets worse; should be a less popular topic.

Fact: Talking through feelings can help a friend recognize the need for professional help, so by showing friendship and concern and giving uncritical support, you can encourage your friend to talk to their parents or another trusted adult, which can lead to a treatment. If your friend is reluctant to ask for help, you can talk to an adult on your behalf, because that is what a friend is really going to do.

Myth: Telling an adult that a friend might be depressed is a betrayal of trust, because if someone wants to help, he or she will ask about it.

Fact: Depression, which depletes energy and self-esteem, interferes with a person’s ability to get desire or seek help, and many parents may not understand the severity of depression. It is a true friendship act to share your concerns with a school counselor, a favorite teacher, your own parents, or another trusted adult.

One last recommendation

It is important that people who have a physical problem consult with their doctor about the most appropriate exercise

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