Could exercise really help with my depression?
I have depression and my regular doctor advised that I start exercising more. Could this really help with my depression? I don't understand how physical activity would affect something that is going on with my brain and its chemicals....
Your doctor is absolutely right. Exercise has an amazing effect on people's moods. I realize that on the surface it doesn't make any sense how physical activity can help your brain chemistry which in tern can effect your mood. Exercise releases many chemicals in the blood including adrenaline (which can help your mood), and many other molecules called endorphins. These endorphins are natural pain killers and inducers of a euphoric state. This is why people feel so good after a long healthy run. Exercising also increases our self esteem, helps us maintain a healthy diet, and improves our sleep all of which have a positive effect on the mind. It is true that the medications we use for depression are designed to only effect serotonin levels in the brain. However, serotonin is not the be-all, end-all for your mood. There are thousands of other factors, most of which we do not understand that can contribute to your state of mind. We know exercise can help. As always, you have every reason to follow your doctor's advice. Don't forget to schedule a follow up appointment him or her, as well. I believe that you will feel somewhat better by the time you make it back to the office. Good luck.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
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