Curing depression with exercise?

Hi I have had depression on and off for the past ten years. I came off my pills in March and felt amazing. Since then I can feel myself slipping back down into a hole and this week has been terrible. My dog has been seriously ill in the vets and my husband and I have hardly spoken for weeks. I have put on weight rather than lose it but I dont want to go back on the pills. They make me feel sick. Has anyone had any success with exercise? I know that when I do get my lazy bum off the sofa and go to the gym I feel great when I come out. Just wondered what you all think before my husband drags me back to the doctor. Thanks :smile:


  • skonly
    skonly Posts: 371
    Exercise will not cure clinical depression. Go to your doctor. Exercise may make you feel better and is good for you but it will not cure depression.

    I'm sorry to hear about your dog. Mine are rescues and have had problems. Last October they almost died and one was in the hospital for a week. I understand the stress.

    Please do not listen to anyone telling you exercise will cure everything. The people saying that most likely have not had actual clinical depression. Talk to your Dr. There is nothing wrong with needing help.
  • porffor
    porffor Posts: 1,212 Member
    Hi, I have been recently diagnosed with a mood disorder that leaves me depressed and was very very low indeed when I got the courage to go to my GP. I know it's not easy, but the drugs do a completely different 'job' to the endorphins released after exercise. There are numerous studies that support exercise 'help' but sadly they don't cure (that I know of).

    So.. be brave, admit you need help for a little bit and remember the drugs do not determine who you are. Your husband clearly cares very much too. Look after yourself and your marriage ((hugs)).

    good luck x
  • meerkat70
    meerkat70 Posts: 4,616 Member
    I have struggled for years with depression, and it gets particularly bad in the winter. Being fit, and working out regularly has certainly helped me greatly. I came off meds 3 years ago, and manage my moods well as long as I'm working out.

    I'm not sure why the second poster asserts her view so strongly, since the evidence base is quite varied in terms of the clinical effectiveness of exercise in the management of depression. A lot depends on the severity. (And of course, the evidence base also tells us that mild to moderate depression also doesn't respond very well to medication... just sayin'.... )

    I wouldn't be so naive as to suggest that exercise will 'cure' it (whatever that might mean). But as a strategy for management - yes, it helps, and it has certainly helped me.

    That said, you could discuss alternate meds. I find most make me sick, but after two weeks, citalopram and I have always got on pretty well.

    Good luck, whatever you decide.
  • JesterMFP
    JesterMFP Posts: 3,596 Member
    Exercise is not going to be a magic bullet to completely cure your depression, but it can definitely help. I actually read an article recently saying that recent studies have found exercise not to make much difference with symptoms of depression. For me personally, I know that regular cardio exercise makes me feel better, and I notice a difference when I don't exercise for a while. The difference that exercise makes for me is not dramatic, but it's enough that if I exercise regularly (at least 5 days a week) at moderate intensity, my mood is a little (but noticeably) higher than if I don't. I don't often get an endorphin "high", it's more of a cumulative thing. For me, it's one of many things that make a little bit of a difference, but it's definitely worth making a regular part of your lifestyle.

    When you say the pills made you sick - have you tried a few different types, or just the one? It sometimes takes some time to work out which one works best, and to get the dosage right. I would definitely go back to your doctor and see what they say. Express your concern about going on medication - or your concerns about that particular medication. They might be able to offer you some other treatment. Given your history - if you can feel yourself slipping now, do everything you can to get the help you need to stop that happening. Also be aware of what else is going on in your life. Stress and problems at home will definitely have an effect on your mood.

    Clinical depression can be such a complicated thing to treat and most people don't find any one thing that completely cures it. Having said that, making sure you are getting good nutrition and regular exercise can only help. Good luck. :flowerforyou:
  • There is evidence to show that exercise does help with the symptoms of depression. I think the only way to find out if this works for you is to try it consistently and see what type of results you get. You may find that medication is more helpful, or with exercise you may need a much lower dose, or possibly not need anything.

    I have never been diagnosed with depression, or any mood disorder, but I know that certain days I am exhausted, feel like a slug, and feel down overall. I force myself to exercise because I know that once I do I have energy, and my whole attitude is uplifted.

    Good luck, I hope that you are able to alleviate your symptoms. If the medication works better for you then please don't rule it out. :) Life is too short to spend it unhappy.
  • CarolynB38
    CarolynB38 Posts: 553 Member
    Sorry you are having such a hard time at the moment :flowerforyou:

    As others have said, exercise can help but if there are other things going on in your life that are getting you down there will be a limit to how effective exercise can be. It can help with your mood and help you cope with the difficult things in your life but perhaps the things that can be dealt with should be dealt with if you want to recover fully. I know that is easier said than done, especially as you are already depressed (EVERYTHING is so hard when you are depressed) but if you can find an antidepressant that will help you to cope without making feel sick you may find you can deal with these things. Exercise can really help with this too but if you feel yourself slipping perhaps it is better to nip it in the bud so that your recovery time from depression is shorter.

    I found Citalopram made me feel very nauseous for about 3 weeks but now really suits me. I am feeling more like my old self again. I'm sure there is one out there that will suit you just as well, but the exercise may well help too. It certainly makes me feel good, especially if there is a social aspect to it.

    I hope you feel better soon

    Carolyn x
  • Can I recommend this book?

    It's a great read and I've found it invaluable. Also, The Mindful Way Through Depression.

    Exercise will certainly help, at least get you out into fresh air, and is by fair preferable to sitting in with a crate of wine like i used to, but reading these books helped me develop other ways of coping. i too hate the tablets. Though I think they're a godsend for lots of people
  • Shannota
    Shannota Posts: 312 Member
    Have you tried therapy yet? My ob/gyn put me on Lexapro years ago (a partial cause to my massive weight gain), but never discussed counseling. Later, I met with a holistic social worker for therapy and it helped much more. I was able to work on some of the causes of the depression instead of just the symptoms. I have now been off the meds since 2009. My husband said it was like I came out of a trance. I had been walking around like a zombie while I was on them. That being said, everyone is different, and I believe that some people do NEED the medication. You may even want to discuss St. John's Wart, as an herbal alternative, with your doctor.

    I hope everything straightens back out for you.
  • amturps
    amturps Posts: 2 Member
    There has been some recent research showing that weightlifting can reduce the symptoms of depression. I don't think there is a "cure" for depression, not even medication. Working with your doctor you should be able to come up with a good combination of strategies that may or may not include medication. Exercise, especially weight training might make you feel better, and I imagine that is your goal.
  • I got divorced and my whole life imploded about 3 months before I joined MFP.

    Exercise defiantly helps with depression. If I wasn't exercising I don't think I would have made it.
  • I suffer from depression, I love to exercise, has the exercise cured the depression. No.

    40mg a day of fluoxetine and Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) have improved my outlook.

    CBT was what got me into the gym, attempt to deal with negative body issues, sociability, feelings of worthlessness. So, that worked.
  • twaltemade
    twaltemade Posts: 68 Member
    I have been on meds or over 15 years and have tried to stop several times for years. Pills alone are not the answer, but when combined with exercise I find it provides the best quality of life. Exercise alone does not do it for me (I just tried again two weeks go).

    I think we'd all prefer not to take the meds, but at the end of the day I will do whatever provides the best quality of life for me and my family.

    My advice would be to try another antidepressant to find one that works for you and keep exercising. You will have a much happier lifestyle and healthier relationship with your family.
  • grrrlface
    grrrlface Posts: 1,204 Member
    Sorry to hear you're having a bad time! *hugs*

    I came off my meds as I was starting MFP, they made me feel sick, like yours do.

    If I work out everyday, usually in the morning, it helps me control my moods a lot better than I I don't exercise. I don't think it's a curebut I think in most people it reduces symptoms associated with depression and helps regulate mood.

    I usually do a high intensity aerobic exercise followed by weight training. I always feel amazing afterwards, hence why I do it in the morning. The feeling usually sees me through the day. :-)
  • TayPat24
    TayPat24 Posts: 131
    I'm having a hard time with mine too, my parents want to put me in a inpatient program but I don't want to :(
  • GypsySoul_74
    GypsySoul_74 Posts: 152 Member
    I have suffered from clinical depression, anxiety, panic attacks and PTSD for the past ten years, due in part to genetics (family history of depression/mood disorders) and in part to a few traumatic situations during my teens. as of November 2011, I went completely medication-free for the first time in almost ten years (after gaining 30 pounds in 6 months on an antidepressant that nearly shut down my thyroid). i had a really hard time at first with feeling like i was never going to be okay without the meds, and i had those days where I felt so depressed and dysfunctional that I didn't want to get out of bed and face the world.

    I started exercising every day beginning in march. I do yoga, Pilates, running, indoor cycling and dance (not all on the same day!). on active rest days I go for long walks. at first, exercise was so hard--not physically as much as mentally. it felt pointless and exhausting.

    but after about eight to ten weeks, I noticed that after exercise (especially yoga and long brisk walks/jogs) I felt considerably better. more optimistic, stable, in control, calm and confident. I also noticed that if I missed a day of exercise, by that evening (or the next morning) I would be quickly slipping back into that old place of despair and hopelessness.

    now, I'm not saying I'm 'cured'. I still have days that are tougher than others, times when I feel anxious or antisocial, nights when I can't sleep from nightmares & flashbacks, moments when I feel like I'm 'losing control' of my life. the important thing is that those times are MUCH fewer and further between. It used to be absolutely constant that I was in a state of deep depression or utter panic. now I'd say I spend less than 30% of my time feeling like that. and because I'm finally unmedicated and having to deal with real emotions that haven't been chemically altered, I'm learning a lot about WHY I feel the way I do, what triggers my bad days, and what I can to do make those days better.

    everybody's experience is unique. there are some people who may never be able to function normally without medication, and there's no shame in that. but for some, exercise and better nutrition make a big difference in the way they feel and allow them to take control of their depression/anxiety so they can live comfortably without the meds.

    I'd say talk to your doctor and your family--they'll be the people (other than yourself) who will be able to notice changes in your mood. let them know that you want to make a go of controlling your depression with exercise and nutrition, and work closely with them to monitor improvement or decline. give it a solid 4-6 months of consistent, daily exercise (even if it's just walking, it counts!) before you reevaluate. i really believe it can make a difference. you may or may not still need medication, but you never know until you try. good luck to you :)
  • GaidenJade
    GaidenJade Posts: 171
    Depression is tricky. I have no way of knowing if your depression is a constant struggle of if it comes and goes. I DO know that I have been off depression meds for five years and before that struggled with it since puberty. I think I have mostly beaten it part because of me exercising and part because I went to counseling and learned different coping mechanisms for the stress I have as a constant in my life.

    Also, just for reference. B vitamins are not only great for your metabolism, but help you to regulate your moods. This has also helped me. I take a b complex vitamin every day. But I don't want to come off as saying you should rule out meds. Because every one is different. I do think you should seriously talk to your doctor. Your life is too important to walk through it miserable.

    I wish you well and I hope your dogs get better.
  • TheArmadillo
    TheArmadillo Posts: 299 Member
    As the others say exercise helps but won't cure depression. My doctor recommended not only exercise but getting out into a green space whether that be a field or a park or a small area of garden. Lots of sunshine.

    Diet can also help, but again won't cure. Healthier foods (plenty of fruit and veg), including a good mix of carbs, protein AND fats. Going too low on any of them can affect your mood even if just temporarily. Not too much sugar (I try to stick to only eating sugar in fruit) and try to keep caffeine low. Take a good multivitamin making sure it includes things like iron, vitamin d and b vitamins (particularly b12).

    For me more than anything a healthy diet and plenty of exercise keeps me motivated to do everything else, and motivation is a big struggle for me.

    But if you are genuinely struggling, go see your doctor. It is an illness and if you are ill you need medical help. Medication can be useful and necessary at times, but also so can therapy (and it doesn't have to be one or the other).

    *note I don't suffer from clinical depression but something with many similar symptoms.
  • Sorry for what you are going through. Things will get better. I dont have clinical depression but i have struggled with what my dr. said was mild depression connected to situations and hormones. Exercise helps a lot, therapy helped a lot but depending on what causes your depression and the severity that probably will determine what kind of meds or if you need meds. I would say to talk to several doctors and therapist. In addition (not instead of) go to a holistic or alternative Dr (ND). I feel when caring for my health both physical and mental that i am able to make the best decision after talking to a variety of experts on the subject. Getting the different opinions will help you weigh out and decide the best plan to care for yourself. Please let us know how you progress.
  • Nutrition1st
    Nutrition1st Posts: 216 Member
    Deficiency of certain essential foods and nutrients have been proven to be the root cause of several mental illnesses. I have provided Nutrition Therapy along side of mental health therapist for 4 years and can show you several cases where exercise and proper nutrition have helped people overcome depression, anxiety, alertness, anger management problems etc. I have 1 client in particular who is a middle school child who was diagnosed with ADHD and severe depression. He failed the 5th grade and was severely depressed and suicidal. His medicine cabinet looked like that of an 80 year old couple. After locating the essential nutrients that were missing from his diet and having him exercise regularly, he is no longer taking Strattera or any other medication for depression or ADHD symptoms. He is now an honor student with great focus.

    Cortisol is known as the "stress hormone" and can cause your body harm physically and mentally. Yoga, meditation and other remedies are used to fight depression. Exercise is right there at the top of the list as well.

    Google Cortisol as well as Dr. Vijaya Sathe for more information on how exercise and Nutrition Therapy can combat depression. Feel free to inbox me if you like as well.

  • brandiuntz
    brandiuntz Posts: 2,717 Member
    Regular exercise can go a long way to helping you with depression. Also, seriously consider talk therapy. While I was on medication off and on for a couple of years, it was therapy and exercise that truly helped me learn how to handle, and then cure, my clinical depression.

    Exercise will help with endorphins and make your body healthy (healthy body helps to keep a healthy mind). Therapy will help you learn how to stop the thought processes that contribute to depression. Mindfulness is very useful against depression (and other disorders).

    Good luck!