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How exercise helps reverse depression


If you are suffering from mild to moderate major depression, get out and get moving! This is the good news medical research has for those who suffer from depression. Discover the science for yourself.


In his valuable book The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time, Alex Korb, Ph.D, notes that “almost everything that depression causes can be combated by exercise.”


For instance, while depression makes you lethargic, exercise boosts your energy. While depression makes it harder to concentrate, exercise helps with mental sharpness and decision-making. While depression sinks your mood, exercise improves it. And it diminishes anxiety and stress.

Exercise strengthens our brains, writes Korb, also a neuroscientist in the department of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“Exercise increases nerve growth factors, such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which are like steroids for your brain. BDNF makes your brain stronger, so it’s more resistant to all kinds of problems, not only depression,” he writes.


Any kind of movement boosts the firing rate of serotonin neurons, which triggers the release of more serotonin. Antidepressants actually target the serotonin system to increase motivation and willpower. (Antidepressants also increase BDNF, and exercise does, too.) Movement may be anything from vacuuming to gardening.

Exercise also reduces the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, and increases norepinephrine. Korb writes that the difficulties in concentration “are mainly the fault of a lagging norepinephrine system.”

Source: “Exercising When You’re Depressed.” By Margarita Tartakovsky. http://psychcentral.com/

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