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Sweating Out Depression

The stigmatisation of suffering from a mental health problem (especially amongst men) is decreasing. When someone suffers from a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Post-traumatic depression (PTD) is one of the most common conditions they are likely to come up against. Listed below are some symptoms of PTD;

  • Sadness

  • Tiredness

  • Anger

  • Loss of interest

  • No energy

  • Troubles with sleep

  • Anxiety

  • Isolation

  • Irritability

  • Trouble concentrating

The likelihood of someone suffering from a PTD episode is 30% for a moderate TBI and 50% for a severe TBI (Juengst, Kumar and Wagner 2017). The most common treatment methods for depression are medication and psychological therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Exercise has been advertised by many motivational/inspirational influencers as a way in which they combated their depression. For example, Tyson Fury cites boxing, running and general weightlifting as some of the things that helped him fight depression. Which makes me wonder; is this specific to us 'normal' functioning people or does it apply to individuals with a TBI suffering from PTD?

Perry et al., (2020) conducted a systematic review of research studies involving physical exercise and mood outcome measures in TBI patients. The review involved 9 studies which met the systematic review criteria. The systematic review found that physical exercise reduces symptoms of depression in those with a TBI.

This is consistent with findings of research regarding exercise and mental health in the general population. Gard (2009) found that 30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week reduces symptoms in patients with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). Moor et al., (2006) suggested that regular exercise is associated with lower neuroticism, depression and anxiety. Moor's findings also suggested that not only does exercise decrease symptoms of some mental health problems but it also increases things such as extraversion and sensation seeking in the population.

In the United Kingdom (UK), exercise is listed as a useful and effective intervention for those with mild depressive symptoms. The UK's national guidelines also layout a recommended programme of exercise to combat mild depressive symptoms (45-60 minutes up to 3 times a week for 10-12 weeks). I love this as it is a practical application from the findings of the research discussed. Depression affects most of us throughout our lives and we should be notified about the different tactics to combat it. It's great that these recommendations have been put into guidelines but you still have to GET UP AND EXERCISE!


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