2010 Archives

Is Exercise the Best Drug for Depression?


The following is from the June 19, 2010, edition of Time. Jasper Smits is associate professor of psychology at SMU.

June 23, 2010

At his research clinic in Dallas, psychologist Jasper Smits is working on an unorthodox treatment for anxiety and mood disorders, including depression. It is not yet widely accepted, but his treatment is free and has no side effects. Compare that with antidepressant drugs, which cost Americans $10 billion each year and have many common side effects: sleep disturbances, nausea, tremors, changes in body weight.

This intriguing new treatment? It's nothing more than exercise.

That physical activity is crucial to good health — both mental and physical — is nothing new. As early as the 1970s and '80s, observational studies showed that Americans who exercised were not only less likely to be depressed than those who did not but also less likely to become depressed in the future. . .

"I was really surprised that more people weren't working in this area when I got into it," says Smits, an associate professor of psychology at Southern Methodist University.

Read the full story.

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