Exercise as depression treatment: Quote?
January 9, 2010 5:02 PM   Subscribe

Help me find a quote about depression and exercise.

When learning about depression, I remember encountering a quote from a prominent researcher. It went something like, "Exercise is such an effective treatment for depression that depression could be framed as a lack of physical activity."

I could've sworn that I read this...sound familiar to anybody?
posted by dualityofmind to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know that quote, but one I heard recently was 'if you do not make time for exercise, you will soon have to make time for ill health'
posted by IdleRepose at 5:27 PM on January 9, 2010

Daniel Clauw is the doctor you're looking for-- his work finds basically that there's a subset of people for whom *not* exercising causes chronic pain and low mood. He does lots on fibromyalgia-- if you google or pubmed him, you may find a quote and you'll find the study.
posted by Maias at 6:47 PM on January 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

recently I went to a lecture given by Irving Kirsch, in which he said something very similar to this. He cited research showing that exercise is at least as effective as (and in many cases more effective than) drugs as a treatment for depression. A quick google scholar search didn't turn up a quote, but you might look into some of the literature that he cites.
posted by googly at 8:14 PM on January 9, 2010

There is a caveat here, however. Depression can produce lack of exercise just as lack of exercise can produce depression. You can literally become slowed down physically and so amotivated that you can't get out of bed, let alone exercise.

So, it's very hard to know how well exercise treats severe depression because those who are most severely depressed just don't do it. and if this is the case in terms of your specific depression, beating yourself for not being able to exercise simply further exacerbates the situation. similarly, blaming the depressed who are this far gone for not exercising is not productive.

and so, the data is confounded by the dropout of the most severe cases, basically.

when you become so anhedonic that absolutely nothing motivates you, drugs or even more intensive treatments may be necessary to get you to the point where you could even consider exercise.
posted by Maias at 7:19 PM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

I would agree that exercise is a powerful weapon against depression. However, the argument that "depression could be framed as a lack of physical activity" strikes me as rather stupid. Just look at all the professional athletes who suffer from depression. They certainly do not lack physical activity.
posted by jfricke at 8:12 AM on January 11, 2010

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