A  A  A   Print
Exercise May Help Ease Depression in Teens: Study

Exercise May Help Ease Depression in Teens: Study

SUNDAY, Nov. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Teens can suffer from depression like everyone else, but a small new study hints that exercise might help ease the condition.

The British study included three boys and 10 girls with depression who were enrolled in trainer-led workouts three times a week for 12 weeks. The teens were also encouraged to exercise 30 minutes a day on the other days.

According to the researchers, the workouts were linked to significant boosts in mood, with depression severity cut by 63 percent. Eighty-three percent of the teens who completed the exercise program were no longer as depressed by the end of the study, which was slated for presentation Saturday at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego.

"Exercise has so many advantages as a therapy: It is non-drug, has few side effects and has countless other health benefits. But it has never been tested in youth as treatment for depression," study author Robin Callister, of the University of Newcastle, said in a Society for Neuroscience news release.

"Evidence that exercise can lift mood in young people is a huge step forward in treatment of this delicate population," she added. "We are now conducting a larger trial to further evaluate the effects of exercise in depression and are hopeful that it could be used as a treatment in addition to other treatments for depression without potential problems."

Two experts in the United States said the findings made sense.

"It is no surprise that exercise reduces depression, regardless of age," said Mark Solms, co-chair of the Neuropsychoanalysis Association in New York City. "It is well established that vigorous and protracted exercise raises endorphin levels, and that endorphins [brain chemicals linked to lowered stress] reduce the mental pain of depression no less than they reduce physical pain."

Victor Fornari is director of the division of child and adolescent psychiatry at North Shore-LIJ Health System in New Hyde Park, N.Y. He noted that depression is a "serious medical condition associated with suffering" and also a major contributor to suicides among young people.

"Although the evidence suggests that the most effective treatment to date for adolescents with depression is a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy in conjunction with antidepressant medication, exercise may also be valuable in the recovery of depression," Fornari said. "In addition to being associated with a healthy lifestyle, regular exercise may have positive benefit in terms of psychological relief, as it does with some depressed adults."

Still, the study is very small and experts noted that findings presented at medical meetings are typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Fornari agreed that "further studies are needed in order to determine the role of exercise in the recovery from depression during adolescence."

And Solms pointed out another potential hurdle when using exercise as treatment for depression: "The only problem is that it is very difficult to motivate depressed people to exercise," he said.

More information

Harvard Medical School has more about exercise and depression.

SOURCES: Mark Solms, Ph.D., co-chair, Neuropsychoanalysis Association, New York City; Victor Fornari, M.D., director, division of child/adolescent psychiatry, North Shore-LIJ Health System in New Hyde Park, N.Y.; Society for Neuroscience, news release, Nov. 10, 2013

 
Today's Interactive Tools
Related Items

The third-party content provided in the Health Library of phoebeputney.com is for informational purposes only and is not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your physician. If you or your child has or suspect you may have a health problem, please consult your primary care physician. If you or your child may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 or other emergency health care provider immediately in the United States or the appropriate health agency of your country. For more information regarding site usage, please visit: Privacy Information, Terms of Use or Disclaimer.

Follow us online:

© 2014 Phoebe Putney Health System  |  417 Third Avenue, Albany, Georgia 31701  |  Telephone 877.312.1167

Phoebe Putney Health System is a network of hospitals, family medicine clinics, rehab facilities, auxiliary services, and medical education training facilities. Founded in 1911,
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (the flagship hospital) is one of Georgia's largest comprehensive regional medical centers. From the beginning, Phoebe's mission and vision
has been to bring the finest medical talent and technology to the citizens of Southwest Georgia, and to serve all citizens of the community regardless of ability to pay.