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title pic Study: Exercise May Make Antidepressants More Effective

Posted by Deborah Pujoue on September 30, 2011

Study: Exercise May Make Antidepressants More Effective

If you think that antidepressants are the best way to cure you of your depression, a new study is urging you to think again. Dr. Madhukar H. Trivedi, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, believes that exercise may hold a cure for depression when combined with antidepressant medication.

Trivedi’s revelation came after he realized that a great deal of his patients that were suffering from severe depression said that they felt much happier after taking a walk. These same patients were also taking SSRI medications like Paxil and Effexor but found that the drugs on their own weren’t working fully. Clinically at least, these patients were still deemed “depressed.”

It is at this point that Trivedi and his colleagues started wondering if they should start adding a “dose” of exercise to their patients’ antidepressant regimen to help increase their chances of getting better. When treating depression, doctors often combine treatments (adding antipsychotic and lithium meds etc.), but with increased side effects risks associated with depression medications such as birth defects and aggressive behavior, exercise is a safer addition.

While studies have shown that secondary drug treatments like those mentioned above do help as many as 20 to 30 percent more depressed patients improve, the risks don’t necessarily outweigh the benefits. This is why Trivedi and his colleagues decided to conduct a study on adding exercise to the antidepressant treatment. They conducted their study with 126 depressed people who were currently taking SSRI medications like Paxil for at least two months, and who didn’t exercise.

The patients were divided into two groups; one added 10 minutes of aerobic exercise to their drug regimen a day and the other group did more vigorous workouts for 15 minutes a day. They did this for four months while the patients also took antidepressants. The doctors learned that 29.5 percent of the patients had a remission of their depression symptoms. This result, Trivedi said, “is a very robust result — I think that our results indicate that exercise is a very valid treatment option” for the patients that haven’t benefitted from taking the SSRIs alone.

The results of the study were published recently in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, so not only can you help combat your depression, you can also get in better shape in the process. Now that’s a benefit.

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