05 Nov Running vs Meds for Depression and Anxiety
A new study in the Journal of Affective Disorders compares (again) the effectiveness of vigorous physical activity and conventional medications for the management of depression and anxiety- but this time, adds information about the broader impact of choosing meds or running as a treatment.
The 16 weeks trial included 141 patients with mood disorders who were able to select either a group running program taking place for 45 minutes 2-3x per week or taking Lexapro.
The two interventions were found to be equally effective in terms of impact on anxiety and depression but, their impact on physical health was very different! As one of the study author comments: “(medication) generally had worse impact on body weight, heart rate variability (a measure of stress resilience) and blood pressure, whereas running therapy led to improved effect on general fitness and heart rate”.
I believe all patients with mood disorders should be encouraged to incorporate physical movement as a specific intervention. Better yet: group training! Social support, encouragement, and accountability to help to motivate a patient who, as a part of their psychiatric condition, may be low in motivation. Win, win, win!