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Reading of the Week: Depression and Its Management — The American Journal of Psychiatry on Exercise and Long-term Use of Medication

From the Editor

It’s one of the most common and disabling illnesses. But how to treat depression in the long term?

In the first selection, we consider a paper just published by The American Journal of Psychiatry. In it, LaSalle University’s Felipe B. Schuch and his co-authors present a meta-analysis on exercise and depression. Drawing on 49 studies, they find that physical activity can protect against the development of depression, regardless of age and geographical region.

treat-alternative-exercise_an_alternative_adhd_treatment-article-3280a-man_running_sunset-ts_451886305-3Exercise: good for the heart, the lungs, and the prevention of depression?

In the second selection, Harvard University’s Roy H. Perlis writes a commentary for The American Journal of Psychiatry responding to a recent New York Times article that questioned the long-term use of antidepressants. He writes: “The informative analogy might be treatment of type 2 diabetes. While diet and exercise have a substantial impact on disease course (notably, results far more compelling than those in depression), it is hard to envision front-page articles in the New York Times about the dangers of long-term diabetes treatment.”

DG

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Reading of the Week: Depression and Primary Care (Depression: Week 2 of 3)

Depression is a common psychiatric disorder and a major contributor to mortality and morbidity worldwide. Over the past decade in Sweden, work absence because of mental ill health has risen markedly and depression is a major factor. Substantial societal costs are associated with the disorder, which affects up to 15% of the population at any one time and tends to be recurrent. There are compelling reasons to investigate alternative treatments for depression. Although effective treatments exist, most people with the disorder never seek professional help. Among those that do, only half appear to benefit. Adherence with medication is often poor and waiting times for cognitive–behavioural therapy (CBT) can be lengthy, resulting in more entrenched symptoms and a worse long-term prognosis. As general medical practitioners are frequently the main care providers for depression, treatment options that are non-stigmatising, have few side-effects and can readily be prescribed in community healthcare settings are needed.

So begins a new paper that considers depression treatment in Sweden. These issues sound very familiar. Reading over this list of problems – the burden of illness, the inaccessibility of care, etc. – we could replace Sweden with Canada. And that’s why this paper is so relevant to us.

This week’s Reading: “Physical exercise and internet-based cognitive–behavioural therapy in the treatment of depression: randomised controlled trial” by Mats Hallgren et al., which was just published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Mats Hallgren

A quick summary: this is a smart paper seeking ways to improve the treatment of depression in the primary care setting. How to achieve better results? Hallgren et al. consider exercise and Internet-based CBT, and compare such interventions to the usual care. Continue reading