Depression is one of the mental illnesses, along with anxiety, more common today. According to the World Health Organization, about 300 million people in the world suffer from it. The data are more serious than we might think if we take into account that it is one of the main causes of disability and that it may end up being aggravated by suicide attempts.
That is why in recent years the possible treatments and different therapies that could help us reduce these rates and slow the progression of this disease have been increasingly discussed. Among others, much has been said about the effect sport has on our mental health and on the healing of depression.
The effect of sport on depression
It is not the first time that from Vitonica we talk about scientific research that has linked the regular performance of sport with better control and improvement of depression symptoms.
According to these investigations, the effect that even moderate sport can have is partly due to the fact that doing so would improve the physical condition of people suffering from depression – normally affected by the reduction in a movement that patients experience -. In addition, by exercising, our body releases endorphins that help our mood and make us feel good.
But that is not the only positive effect that the release of endorphins through sports has on people suffering from depression, but they also offer an analgesic and sedative effect, which helps both the sensation of relaxation and reduce pain. that some of the people who suffer from depression feel.
On the other hand, the performance of sport, even moderate, makes it easier for us to produce neurotrophins. These proteins are especially important when creating new neurons and connections between them. People with depression can see their affected neural network, and it seems that sport could help them improve it.
We must bear in mind that, for the moment, with regard to the relationship between sport and depression, the scientific evidence is very few and not always of good quality
In any case, we must bear in mind that, at the moment, scientific evidence is very few and not always of good quality. What is known is that people who suffer from depression just stop doing daily activities, they are “deactivated” by calling it and sports can help behavioral activation, so that they start doing new activities that take them away from the ” paralysis “or the feedback of activities that reinforce depression.
Physical activity and sport are not a cure
However, that sport can help improve the symptoms of depression and make them more bearable, does not mean that by itself it is a cure. It is important that we keep this in mind as believing that we can heal ourselves by playing sports can make us neglect the search for professional and medical help.
To begin, we must bear in mind that depression is a multifactorial disease and, as such, it is important that it is a multidimensional form. In addition to that, each of us has particular personal and physical conditions and it is important that they are taken into account when recommending a treatment.
Some of the people who suffer from depression may not even benefit from performing sports, at least without control. And, if we have a very worse physical state or our cardiopulmonary capacity has been reduced, getting to play sports very demandingly or without control can be counterproductive. It can generate more body pain or a feeling of demand and lack of achievement that reinforces the depressive state.
The medical and mental health professionals are the ones who can offer us a treatment adapted to us and our personal needs
Therefore, it is important that we always go to mental health specialists and our doctor, so that they offer us the best treatment adapted to our needs and particular situation. This treatment may include psychological therapy, medication, and other supportive activities such as sports.
In addition, if our doctors, psychologists, and psychiatrists consider that it is advisable for us to do sports, it is interesting that we have a professional, such as a personal trainer, who tells us what are the most appropriate and adapted options for us.
When sport affects the risk of depression in some cases, a sport not only does not help control the symptoms of depression but can even be part of the problem. This is the case of elite athletes.
Research in this regard finds that elite athletes have the same risk of suffering from mental illness like depression that the general population and the performance of sports did not have any protective effect for it.
However, surprisingly, what they also find is that in the case of these professionals, the causes that generated the development of this disease could be somewhat different. And, although they share risk factors with the general population, other causes also appear such as high levels of chronic stress, poor stress management strategies, being forced to retire, suffering traumatic events such as injuries, or feeling mistreated by the institution’s sports, among other things.
Therefore, although the recommendation of the sport when we suffer from a mental health problem can be interesting, it is important that we take into account the specific conditions of each person and that the recommendation is not made as something generic without having evaluated the particular situation of each patient.