Physical exercise has been shown to have multiple benefits for mental health, including reducing depressive symptoms. Exercise can increase the production of endorphins, which are natural mood enhancers that can reduce pain and improve feelings of well-being. Additionally, exercise can reduce the levels of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which can cause anxiety and depression when they are present at high levels.
Furthermore, exercise can increase the production of proteins that promote neural growth and development in the hippocampus, a region of the brain that is important for learning and memory. This can lead to improvements in cognitive function and mood regulation.
Depression and anxiety are common mental health issues that affect people of all ages, including adolescents. While physical exercise has been proven to be effective in treating depression in adults, there has been a lack of evidence for its efficacy in adolescents. This clinical trial aimed to determine the effect of structured physical exercise as an add-on therapy for adolescent inpatients hospitalized for depression and anxiety in a psychiatric hospital.
The study randomly assigned 52 adolescent inpatients to either a physical exercise program or a control program, with three to four sessions per week for six weeks (20 hours total). The primary outcome was the Hospital Anxiety Depression Scale (HADS) for evaluating depression and anxiety symptoms, while secondary outcomes included psychological self-assessments, diagnostic interviews, and physical examinations.
The study had 20 people in both the exercise group and the control group after some people dropped out. The exercise group had a bigger improvement in their depression symptoms than the control group. Their depression score improved by 3.8 points, while the control group only improved by 0.7 points. But there was no significant difference in anxiety symptoms between the two groups.
The clinical trial showed that structured physical exercise as an add-on therapy for adolescent inpatients hospitalized for depression and anxiety can lead to a reduction in depressive symptoms. This is particularly important because depression and anxiety are common mental health issues in adolescents and can significantly affect their quality of life, academic performance, and social relationships.
Furthermore, hospitalization can be a stressful and isolating experience for adolescents, and structured physical exercise can provide a positive and engaging activity that can improve their mood and overall well-being. The findings of this study can inform clinical practice and provide evidence-based recommendations for treating depression and anxiety in adolescent inpatients.