I'm glad to see that you made it through the holidays once again! I would like to talk about something that is booming across the nation, as it does every year at this time and tie it in to how it can help you in your own addictions as well ... Starting at the gym!
Don't take a pill … take a jog!
Folks, depression is NOT a Zoloft deficiency! And it is not JUST a chemical imbalance.
Over the past 20 some years of personal training I have seen the immediate and drastic impact of exercise on clients that initially came to me depressed, anxious, not sleeping well, with low to non-existent self-esteem and self-image. At the time I was unaware of the bio and neurochemical changes that were actively taking place in their bodies. However, the visible results were undeniable! My clients would quickly start showing up in better moods, with higher energy levels, and showing very clear signs of improved self care. How is this level of dynamic change possible when their only 'drug of choice' was cardio and resistance training ?
The general public knows that exercise is 'good for you'. However, generally speaking that knowledge stops with weight loss or muscle gain. It has been my experience that very few out there, medical professionals included, actually understand the full impact of exercise. Sadly this information is not hidden deep in some secret archive, nor is it really all that new. There was a landmark study done at Duke University clear back in 1999, that pitted Zoloft head to head with exercise. The outcome of the 16 week study showed that not only did exercise do just as well as Zoloft in the trials, but actually outperformed the medication on the six month follow up!
So how exactly does exercise do this? The simplest explanation is that it "creates the conditions for a storm of recovery." First off, exercise elevates ALL of your neurochemicals, not just the ones targeted by anti-depressant drugs. Exercise immediately kick-starts your norepinephrine levels, which helps to wake up your brain and is responsible for your feelings of self-esteem (a main component in depression). It also increases your dopamine levels, which is responsible for your motivation and attention (motivation being a key component in wanting to do something for your depression). Exercise also elevates your serotonin levels. Serotonin not only helps control your mood (a big plus), and impulse control but also boosts your self-esteem as well. And as an added benefit serotonin also helps by directing counteracting your stress hormone cortisol.
But wait! That's not all! If you are indeed 'out' exercising then by default, where are you not? Sitting at home, by yourself, in the dark, eating junk food (yet another driving force for depression and a great future blog). Just being outside amongst the trees has been shown to have an impact on people's moods and their chemical levels. Add to that mix some 'sunshine', which is a direct counter measure to depression (think SAD, the seasonal affective disorder) and the various 'light' therapies used to treat it. Add to all this a much greater potential of actually running into people and engaging in some much needed conversation (outside that of your own depressive thoughts). Finally the benefit not everyone takes into consideration, the feeling of accomplishment, as one of the drivers of depression is the persons own thoughts on not being able to just 'kick it'; by exercising, you can start to lose that feeling of hopelessness.
Exercise literally impacts your mind, body, and spirit!
Who am I?
I have been called "Sirthinkalot" and "The mender of souls." I am an addiction specialist and a full-time psychology student on the way to Dr. Davis in clinical psychology. I am currently crusading for the expedited paradigm shift in addiction recovery!