Back to Journals » Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment » Volume 12

Exercise is medicine for patients with major depressive disorders : but only if the “pill” is taken!

Authors Gerber M, Holsboer-Trachsler E, Pühse U, Brand S

Received 15 April 2016

Accepted for publication 3 June 2016

Published 5 August 2016 Volume 2016:12 Pages 1977—1981

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S110656

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Lucy Goodman

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder


Markus Gerber,1 Edith Holsboer-Trachsler,2 Uwe Pühse,3 Serge Brand1,2

1Department of Sport, Exercise and Health, Division of Sport and Psychosocial Health, University of Basel, 2Center for Affective, Stress and Sleep Disorders, Psychiatric Clinics of the University of Basel, 3Department of Sport, Exercise and Health, Division of Sport and Health Pedagogy, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland

Abstract:
Major depressive disorders (MDDs) are a widespread and burdensome mental illness associated with a high comorbidity with other conditions and a significantly reduced life expectancy compared to the general population. Therefore, targeted actions are needed to improve physical health in people with MDDs, in addition to ongoing efforts to enhance psychological well-being. Meanwhile, the positive effects of exercise training on the treatment of MDDs are well documented, while compelling evidence exists that exercise interventions can improve cardiorespiratory fitness in clinically meaningful ways. On the flipside, the long-term effects of exercise therapy are still not well documented, and recent studies suggest that initial improvements in MDDs dissipate if regular exercise participation is discontinued after the end of interventions. A recent survey among Swiss psychiatric hospitals further shows that all institutions provide some form of physical activity and exercise program. However, only a limited number of patients participate in these programs, mainly because participation is voluntary and no particular efforts are undertaken to engage patients with the lowest physical activity levels. We argue that more systematic efforts are needed to fully exploit the potential of physical activity and exercise programs in psychiatric care. We also emphasize that initiating and maintaining regular physical activity among psychiatric patients is a major challenge because specific dysfunctional cognitive–emotional processes might interfere with their capacity to self-regulate health-related behaviors. Specifically, we claim that behavioral skill training should be used to support patients with MDDs in overcoming barriers to initiating and maintaining physical activity. Moreover, we suggest that the assessment of physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness should become routine in psychiatric practice.

Keywords: depression, counseling, comorbidities, fitness, physical activity, self-regulation
A Letter to the Editor has been received and published for this article 

Creative Commons License This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License. By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.

Download Article [PDF]  View Full Text [HTML][Machine readable]