EXERCISE TREATMENT FOR DEPRESSION
Exercising regularly and intensely enough to increase the pulse rate and make oneself short of breath, many physicians believe, will help a person overcome mental depression. Although there is no scientific proof for this, the Physician and Sportsmedicine (13#9:192) reports, many psychologists and psychiatrists are sufficiently convinced of a beneficial relationship between hard exercise and a positive frame of mind that they now recommend it routinely for all of their depressed patients if there is no health contraindication.
Mental depression of the type that responds to exercise (reactive depression) is defined as a feeling of sadness greater and more prolonged than is warranted by its cause. It is characterized by sadness, dullness, immobility, a sense of helplessness, and loss of self esteem. Depression that occurs without a triggering event and as a part of a severe mental illness (psychosis) will never respond to exercise alone, but requires psychotherapy and special medication.
One need not be a jogger or runner to overcome reactive depression, it has been found, and people who regularly engage in such activities as tennis, walking long distances, swimming, or rowing can benefit. To be of value, however, the exercise should be a kind that is somewhat demanding and also improves physical fitness.