(Natural News) Depression is one of the most common and debilitating mental illnesses of modern society. Over 16 million adults in the U.S. experience at least one major depressive episode each year, and experts estimate that around 15 percent of American adults will experience depression at some point in their lives.
The quick-fix, go-to solution for the majority of medical professionals is to put patients who are experiencing even mild depression on an antidepressant drug, usually a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) like Zoloft, Paxil or Prozac.
While these medications have proven to be life-altering for some people, they carry serious side effects and are not always effective in the long-term. However, a study conducted by researchers from Duke University and published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine back in 2000, found that exercise – with all its myriad health benefits and total lack of negative side effects when done correctly – is at least as effective as SSRI drugs at combating depression. And, even more importantly, it is considerably more effective at preventing the return of depression than chemical mood enhancing drugs.
Why SSRIs are not the best solution
Even though a prescription for an SSRI might seem like a quick solution to a devastating illness, it is important for people with mental health issues to be aware of their serious side effects.
As Natural News has consistently warned in the past, SSRIs – like all chemical medicines – carry serious side effects.
For one thing, about a quarter of SSRI users become more anxious after they start taking these medications. SSRIs also cause sexual dysfunction, migraines, nausea, dizziness and many other serious side effects.
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Natural Health 365 describes the side effects of Zoloft, which are common to most SSRIs:
The list of side effects of Zoloft is alarmingly long. The most common are nausea, loose stool, diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting and dyspepsia. Other side effects of Zoloft include headache, paresthesia, insomnia, anorexia, diaphoresis, decreased libido and other sexual side effects. People have also reported dizziness, tremor, fatigue, drowsiness, anxiety, agitation, malaise and pain. The most disturbing side effect of Zoloft is suicidal ideation.
Furthermore, studies by reputable scientists have confirmed that antidepressant medications only offer relief in very severe cases of depression.
Fortunately, as confirmed by the study referenced above, exercise offers a far more reliable, non-invasive way to treat most cases of depression.
Exercise: The better way to feel good
The research team from Duke University reported on two separate studies regarding the link between exercise and depression. The first confirmed that 30 minutes of brisk exercise, three times a week, is just as effective as chemical drugs at relieving the symptoms of major depression in the short term.
For their second study, the team followed up with the same 156 patients involved in the first study for an additional six months. A press release by Duke University staff noted:
The new study, which followed the same participants for an additional six months, found that patients who continued to exercise after completing the initial trial were much less likely to see their depression return than the other patients. Only 8 percent of patients in the exercise group had their depression return, while 38 percent of the drug-only group and 31 percent of the exercise-plus-drug group relapsed.
So, not only was exercise just as effective at battling depression as chemical medications, but it was far more effective at preventing the return of depressive symptoms than chemical medications only, or even the combination of chemical drugs and exercise.
Clearly, when it comes to battling depression, the best weapon in a depressed patient’s arsenal is exercise. And, rather than causing debilitating side effects, exercise will also greatly improve the patient’s overall health – a win-win situation all round.
Get the help you need at Psychiatry.news.