Physical Therapy for Depression
Depression, a highly prevalent mental disorder, is generally treated using anti-depressants and physiological therapy. But did you know that physical therapy can also be used to treat depression? Surprised? Yes, it’s true. Despite depression being primarily a mental health disorder, physical therapy comprising of various exercises can assist in improving the mental health of the affected person. Here’s how to use physical therapy to reduce stress and exercise treatment for depression.
How Does Physical Therapy Help Depression?
Everyone is aware of the physical benefits of physical therapy as it is utilized for the supplementary treatment of various physical ailments, but the role of physiotherapy in mental health is lesser known. Physical therapy and exercise treatment for depression have direct benefits as it stimulates the body’s own nervous system and acts as therapy to reduce stress. The role of physiotherapy in mental health is to stimulate the release of endorphins from the pituitary gland. Endorphins are the hormones that improve the mood and relieve stress. Physical therapy also helps in suppressing the hormone Cortisol which is found to be elevated in depression patients.
Exercise treatment for depression is an ideal alternative for those who do not want to take anti-depressants owing to their side effects. Physical therapy has no side effects and improvement in mood can be observed after just one session. However, these effects are short-term and regular physical exercise is required to show prolonged results.
Indirect Benefits of Physical Therapy for Depression
While the direct chemical mechanism of physical therapy to reduce stress and depression is clearly evidenced, the indirect benefits of physical therapy for depression are not very well-known. Here are some of them:
- Reduces functional declines associated with aging
- Improves cardiovascular function
- Aids in weight loss and weight control
- Improves the function of hormonal, metabolic, neurologic, respiratory, and hemodynamic systems
- Alteration of carbohydrate and lipid metabolism increases favorable high-density lipoproteins
- Strength training helps to maintain muscle mass and strength
- Reduces age-related bone loss thereby causing a reduction in risk for osteoporosis
- Improves flexibility, postural stability, and balance; reduction in risk of falling and associated injuries
- Psychological benefits such as preserving cognitive function, alleviating symptoms and behaviors of depression, improving self-awareness and promoting a sense of well-being
- Reduces disease risk factors
- Improves functional capacity
- Improves immune function
- Reduces age-related insulin resistance
- Reduces the incidence of some cancers
- Contributes to social integration
- Improves sleep pattern
All these benefits, especially the ones linked to weight loss and weight control lead to an improved self-image and boost the self-esteem of the depressed patient. This, in turn, helps to combat the symptoms of depression and builds a positive body image.
Physical therapy for depression can show various benefits and help fight the symptoms of depression without the use of harmful anti-depressants. Regular exercise treatment for depression under proper supervision by a skilled professional physical therapist can work wonders for depression patients.