Exercise Reduces Depression, Even With a Family History

An extra 35 minutes of physical activity per day lowers depression risk, even in people with a high genetic risk of the condition.
By on 11/25/2019 2:00 PM

Source: MedicineNet Health News

An extra 35 minutes of physical activity per day lowers depression risk, even in people with a high genetic risk of the condition, according to a study published this month.

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston discovered the mood-protective benefits of additional exercise by examining medical records and genomic information from nearly 8,000 participants in the Partners Biobank, a research program that helps scientists examine the effects of lifestyle, environment, and genes on people's health.

Lead study author Karmel Choi, Ph.D. and her team evaluated two years' worth of data to identify individuals with diagnoses related to depression. They also calculated a genetic risk score for each participant that predicted the chance of future depressive episodes.

People who had a higher genetic risk of depression were more likely to be diagnosed with the mood disorder over the next two years. However, physically active individuals were less likely to suffer from depression, even if they had a depression risk score that was higher.

The results were published in the journal Depression and Anxiety.

The scientists found that for every four hours of additional exercise per week, the risk of another bout of depression dropped by 17%. Intense exercise, including aerobic exercise and working out using exercise machines, decreased depression risk. So did low-intensity exercises like stretching and yoga.

Depression is a serious mood disorder that affects one in 10 people in their lifetime, according to MedicineNet author . Depression is associated with symptoms like sadness, anger, irritability, hopelessness, worthlessness, and changes in appetite and sleep. People with depression may also suffer from crying spells, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, headaches, and chronic pain.

Major depression "interferes with the ability to work, sleep, eat, and enjoy once-pleasurable activities," Dr. Dryden-Edwards said. Depression is treated with medication, psychotherapy, and other interventions.


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