Depression is a complex mental health condition that can have multiple causes. It is often the result of a combination of biological, genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. As a result, researchers have been exploring alternative approaches to treating it. One promising approach is physical activity. Take a look to find more and to see if you have experienced depression ever in your life or you know someone who did:
Depression – what is it and how does it appear?
Biologically, it is associated with changes in the levels of certain chemicals in the brain, including neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. These chemicals play important roles in regulating mood, and imbalances can contribute to the development of depression.
Genetic factors can also play a role in the development of depression. Research has shown that people with a family history of depression are more likely to experience it themselves. However, it is important to note that genetics are not the sole determinant of depression and that environmental factors also play a significant role.
Environmental factors that can contribute to depression include stressful life events, such as the loss of a loved one, a relationship breakdown, financial difficulties, or job loss. Chronic stress, social isolation, and lack of support can also increase the risk of developing it. Psychological factors, such as negative thinking patterns, low self-esteem, and a history of trauma, can also contribute to the development this affection.
What researchers say about depression?
Depression is a widespread mental health issue that affects millions of people around the world, including military service members. In fact, studies have shown that depression rates are significantly higher among military personnel compared to the general population. One such study conducted at the Naval Medical Center San Diego and published in the BMC Psychiatry Journal explored the effectiveness of surfing and hiking as potential treatments for major depressive disorder among active-duty military service members.
While antidepressant drugs such as citalopram, escitalopram, and fluoxetine have been effective in treating it, they do not offer sustained effects that prevent another depressive episode from occurring. Similarly, cognitive-behavioral therapy has been found to be effective, but not all patients respond to it or experience complete relief of symptoms.
Physical activities such as hiking and surfing have shown to have additional benefits beyond just physical activity. Hiking, which involves taking long walks across country, allows people to connect with nature and can have a calming effect on the mind. Similarly, surfing, the activity of riding waves towards the shore using a surfboard, provides an exhilarating experience that can boost mood and self-esteem.
The study found that both surfing and hiking had a positive impact on reducing symptoms among participants. However, the results showed that those who underwent the surfing program were somewhat more likely to return to normal levels of social functioning three months after the study compared to those who were hiking. Studies have shown that exercise can be a valuable adjunct to standard treatments for depression. Moreover, research has found that physical activity in natural environments has larger effects on depressive symptoms than indoor physical activity.
Surfing and hiking are both physically demanding activities that offer a unique blend of exercise, social interaction, and exposure to nature. These factors have been linked to improved mental health and wellbeing in numerous studies. In the case of this study, participants who engaged in either activity reported a decrease in symptoms of depression, such as low mood, low self-esteem, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, and guilt.
It is worth noting that depression is often associated with substance abuse and suicidal thoughts, underscoring the importance of effective treatment for this mental health condition. While traditional treatments such as therapy and medication can be effective, alternative therapies like surfing and hiking offer a unique and potentially beneficial approach.
Overall, the study highlights the potential benefits of physical activity and nature-based interventions for managing depression, particularly among military service members. These findings could have significant implications for the development of new and innovative treatments for it, as well as the promotion of healthy lifestyles among the general population.
The study titled “A randomized controlled trial of surf and hike therapy for U.S. active duty service members with major depressive disorder” was authored by Kristen H. Walter, Nicholas P. Otis, Travis N. Ray, Lisa H. Glassman, Jessica L. Beltran, Kim T. Kobayashi Elliott, and Betty Michalewicz-Kragh.
So physical activity, particularly in natural environments, shows promise as an adjunct therapy for this problem. Activities such as hiking and surfing can have additional benefits beyond just physical activity alone. While further research is needed, these activities offer a potential alternative to traditional treatments for depression.
It is important to note that depression can affect anyone, regardless of their age, gender, or background. While the causes can be complex, it is a treatable condition, and there are effective treatments available, including medication, psychotherapy, and lifestyle changes.