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Stay active. Do something cardio intensive, and a lot of it.

Though I agree this is a good idea, I've had the experience of doing a lot of cardio exercise and having it not improve things, which was crushing given I had assumed it would make a big difference. In the end I crashed out of training after several months and have found it hard to re-engage ever since.

So definitely do it, but don't have expectations going in other than you'll get that nice runner's high [1].

Deep depression is unfortunately a horrible bastard which doesn't allow you even the relief of things which are reliably great for the mild variety, and simply requires other people to help you. So if you find it doesn't shift, go out and get help. That's the hardest thing I have found from my own experience.


You're right about deep depression being serious business, and I agree with you completely on the importance of grabbing hold of some social support. If I might, though... here's a little bit more on cardiovascular exercise as it relates to garden variety depression and motivation.

At some point a couple of years back, I read some research on insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance that led me to believe that they are related to some problems with depression and attention deficit. The natural conclusion from the research was that 1) regular aerobic exercise would help out a lot by improving glucose tolerance, and 2) improvements or impairments in insulin resistance/glucose tolerance would accumulate over time.

That implies that intensive cardio may be beneficial, but it's not a magic bullet. It's not as important as making regular aerobic exercise a lifelong habit. So it has to be something you do even if you don't have a particular goal in mind on any one day.

To that end: whatever you do for exercise, enjoy it. Don't feel like you have to run yourself into the ground. Plant the habit and help it grow.

Oh, and also - for similar reasons, easing up on simple sugars and white bread is a good idea, too.

Yup, same here. I exercise quite a bit. I get antsy if I don't do it, but it's never stopped me from feeling terrible about life.

While I feel that cardio activity helps clear my head, I've never felt a "high" from it. What it does is makes me sleepy. After a run the thing I want to do most is take a nap. So I'm not sure everyone can even expect a "high" from exercise.

Hm, well after reading the wikipedia article (link in my parent post) actually I am not sure as to whether it's been demonstrated scientifically that it is always there, so perhaps then one should go into it with no expectations whatsoever :) - but don't get me wrong on this, I do think it's great advice, and for the majority of people it'll do wonders. Just be careful not to place too many expectations on it.

biljings is right. Exercise is the most effective medicine for mild to moderate depression. It should be the first thing you do when you start to feel gloomy.

I second you. Mens sana in corpore sano http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mens_sana_in_corpore_sano

To expand on this, I would say, get physically fit.

The process of getting fit, changing your diet and working out, will keep your mind off the depression. It will give you more strength and energy. You will end up feeling better.

Cardio activities also involves small challenges and small wins everyday. This will give you a sense of accomplishment. Its a huge morale boost.

But you have to be consistent with the Cardio, and make it part of your lifestyle to rip the benefits.

I agree, though I would add "outside" here. Running or biking outside makes me feel awesome, running on a treadmill makes me feel even more that life is futile. I know we don't always have the choice or ability to do this, but it's great when you can.

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