Exercise for the treatment of depression

This article by Prof. Juan Ángel Bellón has been published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ). It begins (with omitted footnote references that are in the original ):

Even low intensity activities such as walking or yoga are beneficial

According to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people worldwide have depression. When individuals recover from a major depressive episode, they have a high probability of relapse, and in some cases a tendency towards chronicity. Depression results in a considerable deterioration in quality of life for affected individuals and their families. Globally, more than 700 000 people die by suicide each year, and mortality from other physical illnesses such as diabetes, heart diseases, and cancer increases by 50% when those affected have depression. Individuals with depression can face difficulties finding employment, and among those who are employed, depression is associated with reduced productivity, higher rates of absenteeism, and an increased risk of job loss. All this emotional, quality of life, work related, and economic impact affects individuals and their families, as well as the efficiency of health services, businesses, and society in general. Moreover, this effect increased from 1990 to 2019, and during the covid-19 pandemic the prevalence of depressive disorders increased by almost 28%.

Reasonably effective psychological and drug treatments are available, and in recent years, research has shown that exercise is also effective. Important questions remain, however, about the role of exercise in the treatment of depression, including what type of exercise works best, at what intensity and frequency, in what format (individual or group), and for which patient. …”

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