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Effects of Antidepressants and Running Therapy on Mental and Physical Health


Clinical trial shows running therapy beneficial  for mental and physical health

Depression and anxiety disorders can be effectively treated with antidepressant medication or running therapy. However, these treatments may work differently in the body and impact physical health differently.

Clinical Trial

A clinical trial compared the effects of antidepressants and running therapy on mental and physical well-being. A group of 141 patients with depression and anxiety disorders participated in the trial. They were randomly assigned or allowed to choose between a 16-week treatment with antidepressant medication (escitalopram or sertraline) or group-based running therapy, with sessions held at least twice weekly.

Baseline assessments were conducted at the start of the study (T0), and post-treatment evaluations took place at week 16 (T16). The assessments included mental health measures, such as diagnosis status and symptom severity, as well as indicators of physical health, such as metabolic and immune indicators, heart rate variability, weight, lung function, hand grip strength, and fitness.


Of the 141 participants (mean age 38.2 years; 58.2% female), 45 received antidepressant medication, while 96 underwent running therapy. The intention-to-treat analyses showed that the remission rates at T16 were similar between the two groups (antidepressants: 44.8%; running: 43.3%). However, significant differences were observed in various physical health measures. The running therapy group exhibited more significant improvements in weight, waist circumference, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, heart rate, and heart rate variability than the antidepressant group.


Antidepressants and running therapy had comparable effects on mental health in patients with depression and anxiety disorders. However, running therapy demonstrated superior outcomes in terms of physical health. The running therapy group experienced more significant improvements in various physical health measures, while the antidepressant group showed larger deteriorations. These findings highlight the potential benefits of incorporating exercise-based interventions, such as running therapy, for enhancing overall well-being in individuals with these disorders.

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This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. CenTrial Data Ltd. does not take responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. Treatments and clinical trials mentioned may not be appropriate or available for all trial participants. Outcomes from treatments and clinical trials may vary from person to person. Consult with your doctor as to whether a clinical trial is a suitable option for your condition. Assistance from generative AI tools may have been used in writing this article.