The Role of Exercise and Physical Activity in Depression Treatment

More people than ever report feeling depressed in 2023. The number rose steadily during the pandemic, and it has not returned to pre-pandemic levels yet. Some people mention political strife, mass shootings, damage to the environment, and inflation as reasons why they are plagued by feelings of depression.

Whatever reason you have for feeling this way, you can get yourself into a depression treatment program if you think that is warranted. When you do so, you might be surprised to learn that most mental health professionals recommend physical activity as one of the cures for feeling this way.

We will talk about the link between depression treatment and exercise right now.

Inactivity and Depression Are Linked

If you feel depressed, you might have to work extra hard just to roll out of bed in the morning and face the day’s activities. If you’re staying in bed, inactive, then you’re wallowing in your feelings of sadness and hopelessness.

This is one of the reasons why, if you get into a depression treatment program, a mental health professional will likely recommend daily exercise in addition to verbal counseling. It’s a healthy way to fight feelings of depression.

Physical Activity Creates Helpful Chemicals

If you get into a depression treatment program, and you find that the mental health professional you’re working with wants you to exercise, they can readily explain the reason behind it to you. It’s because when you exercise, your body creates chemicals that naturally fight feelings of sadness.

By exercising, you boost your endorphins. That helps you feel better. A mental health professional might prescribe drugs to boost your mood in some cases. However, they will also tell you to exercise daily because that’s a way for your body to create some chemicals that can naturally be of assistance to you.

It’s Easy to Forget About Physical Activity When You’re Depressed

When you’re depressed, facing things like a full day of work, taking the kids to school, preparing meals, and other relatively simple tasks can seem practically impossible. It is easy to stay in a mindset where the world and its challenges might seem to be too much to handle.

In that state, doing something like exercising falls by the wayside. You’re not going to go to the gym if you can’t even bring yourself to get dressed.

If you actively seek treatment for depression, though, the mental health professional working with you can remind you of how good exercise feels. You don’t just do it to stay in shape and to look better. You also do it because of the flood of energizing chemicals that flows into your body.

Having someone to encourage and motivate you to exercise as well as talk to you about your feelings of depression might be just what you need. There’s a little bit of the personal trainer in many mental health professionals. They know that if they can encourage you to exercise, that’s part of the formula that gets you to feel better.

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