Health Watch -- Depression Treatment: Exercise

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

This week on Health Watch, we're talking about treating depression. Almost 19 million Americans suffer from depression, and the illness is a significant cause of disability. While medication may be essential for treating major depression, doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say patients with mild to moderate depression may get help from exercise.

They found in a recent study that depression symptoms decreased by up to 50 percent in patients who participated in a half hour of aerobic exercise three to five times a week. Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, a UT Southwestern psychiatrist, said the effects were similar to those seen with medication. He says exercise as a treatment may be especially helpful for patients who hesitate to seek treatment for depression because of the stigma of mental illness.

Next: A new treatment for resistant depression.

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May 2006

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