OPINION AND EVIDENCE: Is Exercise a Viable Treatment for Depression?

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LEARNING OBJECTIVES• To be able to define depression, list common assessment instruments, describe traditional treatment approaches, and understand the effects of aerobic exercise on depression.Depression is a common disorder that is associated with compromised quality of life, increased health care costs, and greater risk for a variety of medical conditions, particularly coronary heart disease. This review examines methods for assessing depression and discusses current treatment approaches. Traditional treatments include psychotherapy and antidepressant medications; however, such treatments are not effective for all patients, and alternative approaches recently have received increased attention, especially the use of aerobic exercise. This review examines evidence that exercise is effective in improving depressive symptoms among patients with major depression and offers practical suggestions for helping patients initiate and maintain exercise in their daily lives.

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