• Susan Seligson

    Susan Seligson has written for many publications and websites, including the New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, the Boston Globe, Yankee, Outside, Redbook, the Times of London, Salon.com, Radar.com, and Nerve.com. Profile

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There are 10 comments on Exercise: the Other Antidepressant

  1. With the negative side effects of antidepressants, it seems that more and more people are growing wary of them. I think that with depression, since it affects such a wide array of people, it’s important to have options (as far as treatment goes).

  2. Where are the endorphins I heard about decades ago? Has that been disproved, or is it not considered relevant, or just forgotten?
    When I was young and single, I went running 3 times a week (only for 3 miles, but more than doubled my heart rate for 20 – 25 min.) I clearly got “high” from it and this clearly helped my mood. (The reward also motivated maintaining the 3 x week schedule.) Due to surgery in my mid thirties, I can’t do this anymore, and for me the difference has been obvious.

  3. I think exercise is good and it’s helpful if doctors prescribe something specific instead of saying “you need more exercise”. But I’ve been through a couple bouts of depression where exercise didn’t help my mood a bit, it just made me sleep better at night.

  4. Thank you for this article.

    I have entered mild to severe bouts of depression and know exactly how important exercise has been in helping to relieve my state of mind. Jogging, swimming or biking really anything that makes me break a sweat always puts me in the mentality of: “If I can do this, then I can slowly start tackling my life.”

    I personally have not resorted to pharmaceutical antidepressants, partially because several of my friends and peers are prescribed and I see the backlash.

    Often times they become so reliant on a drug’s ability to balance serotonin levels, patients forget that antidepressants are only a supplement. In order to get out of depression, the person who suffers must be willing to make changes in their daily life habits.

    This translates into a more holistic approach to self healing which includes evaluating your eating, sleeping, and exercise habits. It also includes evaluating your peers, family, friends and creating a support group for yourself.

    Humans are social beings and part of survival is based on your ability to interact with your surroundings. Setting up that social network, and I’m not exactly referring to social networking websites, but a network of people who love and care about your well-being is one of the most important things a person can do for oneself.

    If you are suffering, be aware of a few things:

    1. If you want to stop suffering, you will have to make personal changes to your daily life habits

    2. Drugs do not solve your problems

    3. Be wary of any doctor or psychiatrist that is easily or quickly willing to prescribe you. Though it may seem like a solution, especially coming from a respectable source, pharmaceuticals like any choice, have their consequences – over-prescription, worsening side-effects.

    4. In order to make progress, you must be honest with yourself. This does not mean indulging in self hatred or deprecation, it means identifying your short-comings and making small reasonable goals for yourself. If you are the type that’s too hard on yourself, cut yourself some slack. If you find yourself blaming others and outside sources for your problems, realize that the only person you can hold accountable for his or her actions is yourself. This will force you to look within and make the changes you want to see.

  5. Oh how I wish this article spoke the whole truth. I’ve been on an SSRI to treat anxiety and depression for a few months shy of a year now. After I started feeling better a few months back, I decided it was time for me to slowly get off the meds-easier said than done. Almost immediately I started feeling that edge of anxiety again so I turned to exercise for help. It started off innocent-a half hour at the gym 5 days a week-but that quickly turned into an hour, two hours, sometimes three hours seven days a week. I even took up a yoga class to supplement my time on the treadmill and elliptical. But no matter how long or how hard I worked, I could not “shut my brain off” as you put it. Exercise quickly became an obsession, a drug for me. In a way, it hurt me. For some, it’s not as easy as just going outside for a run.

    1. the article isnt supposed to address every aspect of the topic,i think youll find your situation is very rare in depressed patients,those with eating dosorders or OCD for which exercise isnt a proven treatment would be far more liklely to become exercise obsessed.In fact its been shown by research that people prone to depression are the least likley to enjoy exercise in the first place.

  6. In my opinion, Endorphins should have been mentioned because an endorphin rush is a chemical ‘high’. Self-medicating by endorphins is arguably dangerous.
    Endorphins need to be managed carefully, like other mood altering drugs.

    In my personal experience, the addictive lure of endorphins is about on a par with alcohol – greater than cocaine and marijuana and less than cigarettes. This is a measurement of the potential to ‘get hooked’, not the potential physical damage.

    A lot of people have done temporary and permanent damage to their bodies by running. One of the contributing factors would be the desire to “over-achieve” or “push their limits”. Another factor would be “chasing a runners high”

    I am not saying no one should run. I am saying that many people are unable to run responsibly just as others are unable to drink responsibly. Which returns to the original point.

    I agree that endorphins should have been mentioned, because the chemically-based negative effects of excercise should be discussed when the chemically-based positive effects are discussed.

    1. youre mistaking endogenous endorphins for opioid drugs ,the effects arent exactly the same and nowhere near the same extent.Also the dopamine system is what determines the craving for a behaviour not the endorphin response,exercise doesnt have anywhere near the same dopamine response as most addictive behaviours.

  7. I have been dealing with anxiety disorder for years. A year ago I started having panic attacks and was prescribed an SSRI. It has helped a lot but a daily program of moderate exercise helps as well. There is no magic solution but rather a combination of initiatives including exercise. I could have authored the email from “Oh How I Wish This Article…” but would respond by saying don’t despair but don’t put all your efforts into one initiative. The solution is finding a balanced approach over the long term. Exercise and Yoga are great initiatives and should be continued but are not the total answer. Keep going!!

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