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Using Exercise to Treat Depression

When people are depressed, the last thing they want to do is leave their bed, let alone perform any type of self-care. Study after study has shown, however, that forcing yourself to exercise can have an enormous positive impact on your mental health. Psychologists often talk about a coping skill called opposite action. It means that whatever […]

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When people are depressed, the last thing they want to do is leave their bed, let alone perform any type of self-care. Study after study has shown, however, that forcing yourself to exercise can have an enormous positive impact on your mental health.

Psychologists often talk about a coping skill called opposite action. It means that whatever your depression is telling you to do, you should automatically do the opposite. If depression is reciting a negative internal dialog, you can pair opposite action with another skill called checking the facts. Remind yourself that a major symptom of depression is that it lies. By incorporating these two skills you can essentially be your very own cheerleader and you can enjoy all of the benefits that can come from regular exercise, both in the short- and long-term.

One of the ways that exercise helps treat depression is by increasing self-esteem. The feeling of accomplishment and pride after overcoming the voice of depression is enhanced by the feeling of self-care and being self-compassionate. Learning self-compassion is a huge skill in the fight against depression. In addition, it is a known fact that success breeds success. This philosophy is based on the notion that someone who experiences success wants to experience it again because of the surge in the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. 

People with depression often suffer from a lack of dopamine, which is why they lack motivation throughout their lives and find it difficult to concentrate. Dopamine is one of the happy hormones that can be duplicated by exercise, mostly because of endorphins. These hormones are released when you exercise and they interact with receptors in your brain. This not only gives an almost morphine-like sensation but it also reduces any feelings of pain. Exercise is also a great way to take a break from the infinite worry loop of rumination that has no productive use whatsoever.

There are also physical benefits to exercise. Many health problems are ones that also feed depression, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart problems. Keeping fit and healthy is another way of giving your physical self a fighting chance, which has a daisy-chain effect of improving mental health. 

This article was originally published on http://ricocox.com/

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