Relieving Depression with Diet and Exercise

Will dieting or exercising help for depression?

Depression is not caused by problems with diet, although some believe that a balanced diet would leave one less predisposed to difficulties handling stress and thus possibly any mood conditions that result from that stress. Problems with sleep as well are not considered causes of depression but can predispose someone to depressive symptoms when chronically under rested. Evidence exists for reduced concentration and irritability in persons with less then 6 hours of sleep per night. In individuals with manic depression, sleep hygiene is an important component of treatment, as reduced sleep can sometime trigger a manic episode in a susceptible individual.

Effects of Exercise on Depression
Recent research has shown the effects of exercise on mood and anxiety. Although the medical benefits of exercise are well known, the psychological benefits are less understood. Adults who regularly exercise report lower rates of depression and anxiety than the general population. Studies of the effect of exercise on depression have demonstrated positive results. There are many theories as to how exercise improves mental health. Exercise causes changes in levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine and causes the release of endorphins (which masks pain). It may reduce muscle tension, and adrenaline is released, counteracting the effects of stress. Psychologically too, exercise improves self-esteem, provides structure and routine, increases social contacts, and distracts from daily stress. Although the degree of impact that exercise has on depression needs more research, many good reasons exist for including regular exercise as part of a treatment plan for depression.