Meditation Plus Running to Treat Depression

Meditation Plus Running to Treat Depression

By Dr. Rick Wallace, Ph.D. | March 25, 2016 | Mental Health & Ftiness

Meditation Plus Running to Treat Depression

Meditation Plus Running to Treat Depression

Depression in America, and globally, has reached a point of significance where people are being forced to face the reality of its existence. According to the most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, persons 12 years of age or older being diagnosed with depression in any two-week period is 7.6 percent of the national population, which is significant when considering that the American population is well over 300 million. Additionally, the number of ambulatory care visits are increasing, with more than 8 million visits per year. Of these visits, at least 395,000 people will be discharged having been diagnosed with some type of major depressive disorder.

What increases my concern about these findings is that almost every expert admits that the numbers are actually much higher. Because of the stigmatism associated with depression and other mental disorders, people are less likely to report their symptoms to a professional. This failure to seek professional help is more prevalent among African Americans and Latinos.

Effective Treatment of Depression

While some cases are extreme, requiring medication in order to effectively manage the symptoms, many times less severe cases can be treated without the use of psychotropic and psychoactive drugs. As far as clinical treatment of depression, I prefer to use cognitive therapy models, while some therapist will prefer the psychoanalytic model — both have their benefits and place. When it comes to minor cases of depression, there is a growing wealth of empirical data that suggests that the combination of meditating and running can provide significant relief from the symptoms of depression.

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In the past, there have been a number of studies that  (Alderman, Olson, Brush, & Shors, 2016) suggests that while mental and physical (MAP) is a novel clinical intervention mechanism, there is reason to believe that this intervention mechanisms can produce efficacious results. This particular form of intervention was translated through neuroscientific studies that indicate that MAP training increases neurogenesis in the adult brain.

Scientists have been aware for some time that both of these interventional mechanisms independently provided relief from the symptoms of depression; however, this latest study reveals that when performed together, there is a significant improvement in depressive symptoms while simultaneously increasing synchronized brain activity.

Understanding Depression

Interestingly enough, exercise and meditation affect the same portions of the brain impacted by depression. Studies have revealed that people who meditate on a regular basis over a long period of time typically display different patterns of brain-cell communication within their prefrontal cortex during the process of brain scans and other forms of measured testing.

Reviewing The Empirical Evidence

According to a number of animal studies, aerobic exercise significantly increases the production of new brain cells in the hippocampus.

In the studies in which improvement in depression symptoms was witnessed, the participants meditated for 20 to 30 minutes, and then either got on a treadmill or stationary bike and jogged or pedaled at a moderate pace for 30 minutes (plus five minutes of warming up and five minutes of cooling down). These participants completed these sessions twice per week over the course of eight weeks.

While those who suffer from depression reported an improvement in their symptoms, members of the controlled group (those who participated in the study who did not suffer from depression) also reported feeling happier than they felt at the beginning of the study.

While there is still a great deal of research that must be performed in order to gain a lucid perspicacity of how meditation and exercise perform their magic, there is enough pragmatic and empirical evidence to support the proposition that meditation and exercise combined can improve depression symptoms, plus it should be a part of a normal healthy lifestyle anyway. ~ Dr. Rick Wallace, Ph.D.

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