Exercise as it relates to Disease/Exercise as a clinical treatment for depression amongst adolescents
What Is Depression?
Depression is one of the most prevalent mental illnesses not only in Australia but also the world, with one in every five adolescents likely to experience a diagnosable depressive episode by the age of 18. The term ‘Depressed’ is used often in general conversation to describe feeling down after a particular unpleasant event, which is usually short lived and resolved rapidly. A depressive mood is not necessarily a mental illness; it is often a normative response to life events, or certain circumstances. Depression as a mental illness however, describes a much more prolonged and persistent negativity. It is often categorized as;
- A state of low mood
- Aversion to activity that can affect a person's thoughts, behavior, feelings and sense of well-being,
- Constant or sustained depressive mood as a primary factor.
Depression is regularly seen in conjunction with other mood/mental disorders, in particular anxiety, and can trigger and/or is triggered by eating disorders, schizophrenia and stress.
Diagnosing depression is a difficult task, as it does not involve a particular type of pathogen.Thus, a blood test or any similar sort of test cannot be undertaken. To determine if one is suffering depression a doctor will often run through a series of questions to determine things the patient may be going through or feeling including:
- major changes in weight
- irregular sleep (too much or too little)
- feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
- problems with concentration or making decisions almost every day
- recurring thoughts of death or suicide
The culmination of the patients response, as well as factoring in certain circumstances such as patient history, physical signs and ruling out physical conditions; for example hypothyroidism, helps the doctor achieve a diagnosis.
|Cognitive Behaviour Therapy||Identify and stop patterns of thought and behaviour leading to depressive episodes||Found to be useful across all demographics||Only addresses current problems, focus on ability to change, not address wider problems |
|Antidepressants||Prescribed when other treatments aren’t working, often effecting serotonin production and sensitivity||Make people feel better, removes chemical imbalances in the brain||Don’t change personality or cognitive behaviour, varied side effects including nausea and weight gain |
|Lifestyle Changes||Changes to diet, exercise, conversations with family/friends||Cheap, long lasting results, often used to amplify other treatments results||Lack of GP supervision, recovery may take longer |
Successful Exercise Treatments
Several clinical studies have shown strong a strong relationship between prescription of exercise and reduced depressive symptoms amongst adolescents.       These studies all varied greatly, one tested only 49 female adolescent participants, whilst another had over 20 thousand participants. They also measured depressive symptoms in different ways, some with questionnaires, another with a scale from the Centre for Depression studies. Some were followed up two, or even six years later, whilst another wasn’t followed up longitudinally at all. Despite all the variances, each study came to the same conclusion. All the studies showed evidence to suggest a strong positive correlation between prescription of exercise and a decrease of depressive symptoms amongst adolescents. Two trials showed that 16 weeks of regular moderate exercise was just as effective as a prescription of anti-depressants.
Benefits of Exercise as a Treatment
- Self esteem boost
- Increased social interaction via team sports
- Distracts from pessimistic thinking
- Improved sleep
- Increased energy
- Relatively side effect free
- Added physical benefits such as cardiovascular adaptation, prevention of numerous diseases, maintain healthy weight.
Currently there is no true optimal recommendation, however there are still guidelines.
- Exercise does not need to be vigorous to help alleviate symptoms. 16
- Exercise for at least 10 minutes at a time, for a minimum of 30 minutes a day 16
- Moderate intensity on most days of the week, if not all, is most beneficial 16
- Live a more active lifestyle, e.g taking the stairs more often 15
- Choose a range of fun activities, as enjoyment and adherence are most important 15
- Further longitudinal studies are required to ensure reliability over time
- Adherence is the biggest potential issue
- Unsure of optimal frequency, intensity, type and time 9
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