Geoff Heugill’s recent gold and silver medals at the Delhi Commonwealth Games marked a triumphant return from his battle with obesity. An earlier interview on Channel 7’s Sunday Night program revealed that the champion swimmer had also been battling depression. Coincidentally, as Geoff fought his way back to the elite level of swimming he came across the most effective way to treat depression…
In fact, a Duke University study of 156 people diagnosed with depression found that only 8% of people with depression who did this had their depression return, while 38% of those receiving anti-depressant medication (Zoloft) relapsed. And the exciting thing is that Geoff’s approach is completely natural and has zero negative side-effects and many additional health benefits…
In this study, researchers compared exercise only, exercise plus anti-depressant medication, and anti-depressant medication only approach to treating depression. The initial study found that just 30 minutes of brisk exercise performed just three times a week was just as effective as drug therapy in relieving the symptoms of major depression over a six week period.
They continued the study for six more months to investigate what approaches help people stay well. They predicted that the combined drug and exercise approach would be the most effective long term.
But they were wrong!
They found that the participants who continued exercising were far less likely to see their depression return when compared to the other participants.
Only 8% of the exercise group had their depression return, while 38% of the drug-only group suffered a relapse. Interestingly, taking anti-depressants reduced the effectiveness of exercise with a 31% relapse rate among people who exercise and took anti-depressant medication.
When explaining the results, researchers suggested that the feeling of having some sort of control over your life is the safest and most effective drug of all…
“Simply taking a pill is very passive,” said study leader James Blumenthal. “Patients who exercised may have felt a greater sense of mastery over their condition and gained a greater sense of accomplishment. They may have felt more self-confident and competent because they were able to do it themselves, and attributed their improvement to their ability to exercise.
These studies show that you don’t need to do become an elite athlete like Geoff to overcome depression. Even a modest exercise program like 30 minutes/3 times a week is an effective treatment for major depression and keeping it at bay.
The research also highlights the mounting evidence that questions the effectiveness of anti-depressant medication.
If you’ve already been diagnosed with depression or a more serious mental illness, it is vitally important you do NOT stop your medication cold-turkey! Doing so could be dangerous to both your mental and physical health.
What you want is a cautious approach to discontinuing these drugs – and you need to do this with the assistance of a qualified and knowledgeable clinician who can slowly wean you off them over a period of a few weeks or months. Ideally a medical practitioner with some additional training in more natural and complementary therapies is best suited to supervise your drug withdrawal. www.acnem.org is the best site to find such a practitioner.