A recent study reveals that exercise may not provide the relief from depression that has been assumed for years. I don’t know what to think. At first blush the results don’t make sense to me. Consistent, vigorous exercise should surely provide some relief from mild to moderate anxiety and depression yet this study suggests otherwise.
I am curious to see the results of future studies that are sure to follow-up in an effort to validate the findings and would advise researchers to ensure that study participants are getting meaningful, consistent, and vigorous exercise.
I say this because one article about the study suggests researchers weren’t actually requiring a subset of participants to engage in meaningful, consistent, and vigorous exercise during the life of the study.
The article reads in part:
“But for eight months some in a randomly allocated group were also given advice on up to 13 separate occasions on how to increase their level of activity. It was up to individual patients what activity they chose to increase and by how much.
This approach produced good results in terms of encouraging people to do more over a sustained period of time – something which could have benefits to their general physical health.”
Did you catch that?
“were also given advice” on how to increase their activity levels
“it was up to individual patients what activity they chose to increase and by how much”
What does this mean?
We have a curious study that may discourage people from pursuing a substantially more active lifestyle, because the researchers failed to require certain study participants to actually engage in consistent, increased exercise levels over a prolonged period. At least that is my understanding from a couple news articles such as this one from BBC News.
Let’s hope the next study takes the exercise component more seriously.
I’ve struggled with depression for about 20 years and in that time I’ve read and researched quite a bit about it. Today, a new theory of depression just blew me away and reveals how little we really know about chronic, serious types of depression. You see there is thing called the “hygiene hypothesis” that suggests worms or other bacteria may be responsible for triggering an inflammatory response in the body that results in some type of depression.
One proponent of the idea suggests that with time there might even be a vaccine to protect us from these creatures that later cause depression. Is it plausible? Perhaps, although with all our advanced medicine today it would seem that such a cause would have clearly been established by now. I would certainly volunteer for some tests if they could find a tangible, underlying cause for my depression.
This reminds me a bit of the “crazy cat lady” hypothesis that I’ve heard about on a few occasions. This theory suggests that a person likely becomes infected with a certain type of organism – presumably from cat feces – and their brain reacts in a way that compels a person to practically hoard cats.
So what should we make of all this? Two things:
Testing – Although it is a long shot, I suppose one could ask their doctor to explore less common blood workups for either exotic infections that often go undetected or inflammatory markers that might reveal other underlying health conditions. If you are prone to hypochondria as well, then stop right now and take a few deep breaths before running off to the doctor – there probably isn’t much that can be done at this point.
We don’t know what we don’t know – There is so much about mental illness – physical illness too – and so much to learn. I would love to be around in 100 years to see what science has revealed about the nature and causes of depression and anxiety.