Leigh Randa, PhD

Therapy with A Positive Belief in You.

The Relationship Between Exercise and Depression

Depression is a complex condition. It can be caused by upbringing, hormonal changes, diet, trauma, genetics, interpersonal situations and more. Every individual is different, just as every individual may require a different approach to treatment.

For those interested in learning more about their depressive symptoms, it may interest you to learn that depression has been linked in some ways to exercise – both as a cause and as a treatment.

How a Lack of Exercise Can Cause Depression

To quote Psychology Today: “Depression feeds on withdrawal and inactivity.” There are many different links between depression and a lack of overall exercise. These include:

  • Changes to Hormone and Neurotransmitter Levels – The more you take care of yourself, the better your hormones and neurotransmitters function. Lack of exercise can throw these body chemicals out of balance.
  • Tiredness and Energy Levels – Lack of exercise can cause you to feel more run down and listless, which ultimately contributes to further depressive symptoms.
  • Negative Reinforcement – Doing fewer stimulating activities seems to increase the frequency and severity of depression.

Lack of physical activity can also affect confidence levels, which is important for feeling positive about yourself.

How Exercise Can Help Fight Depression

Exercise seems to have many positive benefits for those that struggle with depression, making it one of the few natural treatments that can help fight depressive symptoms. Benefits of exercise include:

  • Releasing Positive Feeling Neurotransmitters – Exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural pain killers, and also provide a “high” feeling that creates a more positive mood.
  • Distracting – Exercise requires a lot of mental energy and focus, even if it doesn’t seem like it. This acts as a successful distraction from depressive thoughts.
  • Confidence – Feeling good about yourself does have an effect on depression. Exercise tends to build confidence, which in turn means that you’ll feel happier about yourself and your body.

There appear to be other potential benefits as well. For example, there are studies that link exercise to a boost in serotonin levels – another neurotransmitter that improves mood. Many studies also show a strong link between physical health and psychological health. Since exercise is healthy, it is possible that your psychological health improves with it.

Find Relief From Depression

If you are struggling with depression in Kansas City, exercise can help. Therapy is also very effective, and a great way to see real improvements in your mental well-being. Call me today at 858.224.3767 for more information about depression treatments.

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