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Be Happy and Feel Good

Watch The Ted Takj by Dr. Stephen Ilardi

The number of Americans with depression has increased dramatically over the last ten years.  Depression is usually managed with medications and at present, one in five Americans is taking an antidepressant medication.  A modality of depression treatment that is often overlooked is exercise.  Daily movement has a restorative effect on brain health.  For decades, we have known that bed rest, induced by illness or injury, can change our physiology in a fairly short amount of time.  A sedentary lifestyle can have just as big an impact on how the brain functions.  Take the time to watch Stephen Ilardi PhD *Ted Talk on the management of depression.  If you have the time read the **article he wrote in the October 26, 2017 issue of the Wall Street Journal.  Dr. Ilardi has some insight on how technology enhancements are making us unhappy.

Consistent exercise restores brain health, immunizes us from depression, and greatly reduces pain.  Physical therapy patients and fitness clients frequently say the most beneficial aspect of a renewed devotion to exercise is the improvement in their mood.  Hundreds of studies have demonstrated the positive effects exercise has on brain chemistry.  All of the happiness and pain suppressing molecules antidepressant medications attempt to increase are developed and maintained sooner and stronger with exercise.  Mood improving serotonin, dopamine, and BDNF–Miracle Gro for you neurons–all increase with exercise.  Some of the most revealing research on pain science has shown that the brains “pain circuitry” changes when a patient is depressed.  Pain is perceived as more intense, widespread, and emotionally challenging.  Now put down your iphone and watch Dr. Ilardi.

Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS

*TedxEmory, Dr. Stephen Ilardi.  See the ted talk on youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drv3BP0Fdi8

**Wall Street Journal, Why Personal Tech Is Depressing, Dr. Stephen Ilardi, October 26, 2017.

It has been reported in many studies that older individuals who take benzodiazapine medications have more car accidents, falls, emergency room visits, and a much higher rate of hospitalization.  The American Geriatric Society has been warning patients and physicians about the pitfalls of these medications for years.

Benzodiazapines are some of the more commonly prescribed drugs and include: Ativan, Xanax, Valium, Restoril, Klonopin, Halcion, Ambien, and Lunesta.  They are used primarily to treat depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders.

Now more bad news has come to light.  Recent research has linked benzodiazapines to the development of Alzheimers.  Please read this recent article, Study Links Anxiety Drugs to Alzheimers,  in the NY Times.  Researchers followed patients for over six years and the development of Alzheimer’s  disease went up dramatically with greater use of these drugs.

The good news is that an effective alternative to these medications is available.  Since 2003, a growing body of medical research has demonstrated that exercise is very effective in combating depression and anxiety.  In study after study, exercise has been shown to produce results as good or better than medications.

The website of the American Psychological Association has a full page on the use of exercise to treat depression.  The Mayo Clinic website has a section devoted to using exercise to manage depression and anxiety.  I urge everyone to read a recent article in the LA Times, Exercise As a Treatment for Depression: Here’s How It Works, on the exercise induced biochemical changes that help alleviate depression.

So what amount of exercise is recommended to control depression?  The optimal duration and frequency dosage is thirty to forty minutes a day, seven days a week, or a minimum of three hours a week.  As expected, better results occur with more consistent compliance to an exercise program.  Daily training sessions produce the best control of symptoms.

The side effects of exercise are directly opposed to that of benzodiazapines.  When you exercise regularly you fall less, have fewer visits to the emergency room, become less likely to be in the hospital, and preserve cognitive function.  If we could just turn forty minutes of exercise into a pill…

-Barb O’Hara, RPh

To read the articles mentioned, please click on the links below: