Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Walking the Black Dog
The benefits of exercise on our physical health are a given. Now, a recent study conducted by the Black Dog Institute and published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry confirms that Australians diagnosed with clinical depression rate exercise as the most successful self-help strategy for managing their symptoms.
The study interviewed 2692 people who had received treatment for clinical depression, asking about their use of medication and professional psychotherapy as well as self-help and alternative methods. Self-help strategies were rated as good as or better than antidepressant drugs, with exercise the most effective tool, followed by yoga/meditation, massage and relaxation.
However, the author of the study, Professor Gordon Parker, highlights the danger inherent in a comparison of drug therapies to self-help strategies such as exercise. Professor Parker stresses people generally tend to prefer non-drug approaches and would therefore be more likely to emphasise their usefulness. Thus, while the study suggests the usefulness of exercise as an adjunctive therapy, it is important to remember that a range of treatments, including drug therapy, are appropriate in clinical depression.