Engaging in exercise helps fight depression, researchers reveal.USAG-Humphreys/Flickr

Engaging in exercise helps fight depression, researchers reveal.

To analyse the power of exercise in treating depression, Robin Callister - from the University of Newcastle in the UK - and colleagues looked at 13 depressed children, including (3) boys and (10) girls. The children joined a supervised exercise program thrice a week for three months. Apart from the regular exercise schedule, the participants were recommended to spare at least half an hour for exercise for the rest of the days in the week.

Results showed that the workout schedule helped reduce depression by 63 percent. Majority of the participants fully recovered from their mental status by the end of the study. "Exercise has so many advantages as a therapy: It is non-drug, has few side effects and has countless other health benefits. But it has never been tested in youth as treatment for depression," study author Callister, told Health Day. "Evidence that exercise can lift mood in young people is a huge step forward in treatment of this delicate population."

Depression is an outcome of chemical changes in the brain caused by stress or hormonal changes. It is one of the most common and serious mental health problems faced by the young generation all over the world. During a major depressive episode, a person experiences severe, highly persistent depression and a loss of interest in everyday activities, often followed by problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration and self-image.

Treating this condition early is crucial as untreated depression can lead to self-destructive behaviour and suicide.

Research has shown the adverse outcome associated with an untreated depression. Researchers from Washington University School of Medicine reported in March that experiencing depression at least once in childhood increased the risk of heart diseases in adolescence. Highlighting this point, they found that the risk factors for heart diseases like smoking, obesity and a sedentary life were more common among teens who experienced depression as kids. These risk factors remained the same at adolescence, even though the child completely recovered from depression.

Following are some research-proven methods to combat depression and identify it early:

  • Dance Classes- Similar to the current study, a November 2012 study found that regular dance sessions helped eliminate depression, stress, fatigue and headaches in young girls.
  • Healthy Diet- A study conducted by a team of Finland researchers reported in September that following a healthy diet, particularly rich in folic acid helped prevent depression.
  • Breastfeeding- A team of German researchers reported in September last year that breastfeeding can protect the baby's risk of developing depression later in life.
  • Computer Test- A study published in the PLOS ONE in November 2012 reported about a computer test that helped detect the condition early.