Hope & Harmony Headlines: Taking An Active Role Against Depression
May 30, 2019 • Volume 12, Issue 22
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Your memory is better and your mood is better, as are other aspects of your daily life.
This is your brain on exercise.
Research for years has confirmed a link between exercise and improved mental health. But a recent study takes this a step further—finding strong evidence that higher levels of physical activity may be responsible for reducing the risk of depression, regardless of genetic makeup.
Perhaps just as encouraging: The study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, suggests that jogging for 15 minutes a day, or walking or gardening for a bit longer, could help ward off depressive episodes.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America, meanwhile, has its own recommendation for people with bipolar—to get 30 minutes of activity three to five times a week.
“Human bodies are designed for regular physical activity,” says American celebrity doctor Andrew Weil.
While science has shown exercise to be a viable and effective strategy for dealing with the depressive phase of bipolar, there hasn’t been enough research to determine the recommended intensity, duration and frequency for bipolar-specific programs.
But a study conducted at the Centre for Youth Bipolar Disorder in Toronto did discover that after participants spent 20 minutes on a stationary bike, unusual activity patterns in certain brain regions had become more typical, suggesting a boost in executive functioning, which plays a role in depression.
Exactly how exercise impacts specific aspects of the brain with bipolar remains to be entirely mapped out, but exercise may influence a protein that stimulates new brain cells, as well as activity in the frontal cortex and hippocampus regions of the brain.
“Neurotransmitters can affect your mood if they are out of balance,” says Gene Alexander, PhD. “Physical activity may help to modulate these important brain chemicals, help to reduce stress, and help you sleep better.” Read more >>
April 4, 2019, Ann Arbor, MI—In a new study, researchers have found that just 20 minutes of contact with nature—whether it’s sitting or strolling through a place that makes you feel in contact with nature—will lower stress hormone levels.
This is the first time the most effective dose of an urban nature experience has been studied and established. The unique study was set up to help healthcare practitioners looking for evidence-based guidelines on the most effective dose to dispense in terms of prescribing ‘nature pills.’
“We know that spending time in nature reduces stress, but until now it was unclear how much is enough, how often to do it, or even what kind of nature experience will benefit us,” says Dr. Mary Carol Hunter, an associate professor at the University of Michigan and lead author of this research, published in Frontiers in Psychology.
During the study, participants were free to choose the time of day, duration, and the place of their nature experience, which was defined as anywhere outside and that made them feel like they’ve interacted with nature. “There were a few constraints to minimize factors known to influence stress: take the nature pill in daylight, no aerobic exercise, and avoid the use of social media, internet, phone calls, conversations and reading,” Hunter explains. Read more >>
Entering back into your regular life after a hospital discharge can be overwhelming. To make it less daunting, adjust your expectations and take it slow.
By Laura Fisher
I was recently hospitalized for a severe depressive bipolar episode. It was quite discouraging for me to say the least. I had been keeping track, and it had been two full years without needing to be hospitalized. Then, the depression hit, and with the help of my counselor, I made the decision to admit myself to an inpatient psychiatric center. I say “made the decision” as if I were checking into a spa. In reality, there was no decision to be made. It was necessary and life-saving. It had gotten to the point where I was having difficulty physically caring for myself. I was also having constant and severe suicidal ideation. My hospitalization was necessary in order to save my life. Read more >>