I keep it no secret from my clients : I have mental health issues. It started when I became a young adult and since then, I have waved through good times, okay times and very very bad times. As my mental illness has waxed and waned, so have the coping mechanisms I have learned along the way.
One aspect of my recovery has been the overwhelming effects of exercise on my mood and depression, this is one of the many reasons I was drawn to change my career path and become a personal trainer myself.
I think it comes to no surprise to anyone that exercising and good diet can drastically increase your mood, releasing serotonin and dopamine— neurotransmitters or “feel-good” brain chemicals that are released while being physically active.
This, however, may surprise you.
"Exercise is now recommended as a stand-alone treatment for mild-moderate depression, and an adjunctive treatment for moderate-severe depression."
That's right. Exercise alone has a drastic effect on the symptoms of mild-moderate depression.
Just image what combining exercise, talk-therapy and pharmaceuticals working together can do!
That's why the Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (link to the lovely people here) and Canadian Mental Health Association (more awesome people here) , plus some more wonderful associates (see the references for more) Have come together to create the Exercise and Depression Toolkit.
What's in the toolkit?
The toolkit itself was designed for use by health care professional (ie. doctors, occupational therapist and mental health professionals) but it also provides helpful information to those with depression and how to help their condition with exercise.
The tool kit goes over why exercise can be beneficial to those suffering with depression, but also acknowledges that exercise may be part of a bigger treatment plan. As always when reading online source materials, consult a professional before prescribing a treatment plan to yourself. (pssst. I included a list of contact information for local Camrosians that may need help with mental health at the bottom of this page)
The toolkit also goes over the relationship between exercise and depression, talking about how changing one aspect in the cycle of depression can break the cycle entirely.
Through research and studies, the CANMAT created guidelines in relation to exercise as a standalone treatment for mild-moderate depression in adults.
On top of the resources, the toolkit provides a mood + activity diary, SMART goal setting, weekly schedule and positive statement exercises to help those with depression keep track of their treatment.
Intrigued? As you should be! Here is the PDF for the whole toolkit, which also includes the list of references if you want to dig a little further!
Want to seek help or learn more about depression and exercise? Here are a few Camrose and nationwide sources that may help!