Treating Major Depression with Physical Activity: A Systematic Overview with Recommendations

Today a newly accepted paper became accessible online. It is a part of a forthcoming special issue on Exercise in the Treatment on Anxiety-Related and Depressive Disorders. Guest editors are Gordon Asmundson, Mike Powers and Jasper Smits. In total there will be ten papers:

  • Running as Interoceptive Exposure for Decreasing Anxiety Sensitivity: Replication and Extension (Sabourin et al.)
  • Exercise Augmentation of Exposure Therapy for PTSD: Rationale and Pilot Efficacy Data (Powers et al.)
  • The Effects of a Hatha Yoga Intervention on Facets of Distress Tolerance (Medina et al.)
  • A Single Bout of Aerobic Exercise Reduces Anxiety Sensitivity but not Intolerance of Uncertainty or Distress Tolerance: A Randomized Controlled Trial (LeBouthillier et al.)
  • A Feasibility study on Combining Internet-Based Cognitive Behaviour Therapy with Physical Exercise as Treatment for Panic Disorder—Treatment Protocol and Preliminary Results (Hovland et al.)
  • Effects of a Single Bout of Aerobic Exercise Versus Resistance Training on Cognitive Vulnerabilities for Anxiety Disorders (Broman-Fulks et al.)
  • A Pilot Test of the Additive Benefits of Physical Exercise to CBT for OCD (Rector et al.)
  • Treating Major Depression with Physical Activity: A Systematic Overview with Recommendations (Nyström et al.)
  • Aerobic Exercise Reduces Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial (Fetzner et al.)

The abstract of our study:
The purpose of this systematic overview was to determine the most effective mode and dose of physical activity (PA) for treating major depressive disorder (MDD), and to suggest guidelines and recommendations for clinicians. The selection process consisted of a comprehensive search that was conducted up until April 2014 in the following databases: PsycINFO, Medline, PubMed and Scopus. The inclusion criteria were: (1) a randomized controlled trial (RCT) design, (2) complete description of intensity, duration and frequency of the PA, (3) the participants had to be diagnosed with MDD according to Diagnostic Statistical Manual 4 th edition (DSM-IV) or International Classification of Disease tenth Revision (ICD-10) criteria (4) if the controls received any treatment, it had to be specified, (5) published after 1990, (6) consist of aerobic or anaerobic treatment PA, and (7) not be a pilotor preliminary study. A quality assessment of each study was conducted independently by two reviewers; this stringent selection process resulted in 12 reviewed studies. Conclusion: individually customized PA, for at least 30 minutes, preferably performed under supervision and with a frequency of at least three times per week is recommended when treating MDD. These recommendations must be viewed in light of the relatively few studies matching the inclusion criteria.

Read the full paper:
Nyström, M. B. T., Neely, G., Hassmén, P., & Carlbring, P. (in press). Treating Major Depression with Physical Activity: A Systematic Overview with Recommendations. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. doi: 10.1080/16506073.2015.1015440

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