Every 1 in 3 people suffer from depression or anxiety. Fact. Let that sink in for just a moment. If you do not suffer from either depression or anxiety, odds on someone in your immediate family does. Pretty alarming isnt it? Well how about if I told you that the highest cause of death between Australians aged between 15-44 years old is suicide? In 2012, the average suicide rate was 11 per 100,000 people. That equates to almost 7 deaths per day in Australia due to suicide. In 2012, there was 2,535 reported cases of suicide in Australia. 1,901 males and 634 females. Quite shocking isn’t it?
We all know someone who has experienced or living with depression and likely have experienced bouts of anxiety from time to time. We have all these facts staring us right in the face, yet depression and anxiety is rarely talked about. A black shadow cast upon society and no one really dares to speak of it or even acknowledge its existence. People are ashamed to admit they have these issues and generally suffer in silence or suffer by masking the pain. Depression is a torturous disease that is relentless and never goes away no matter what happens in our lives. You can have good days yes but generally that black shadow is lurking in the background, in the back of your mind and it feels like its impossible to shake.
I, for one suffer depression. It has stopped me from doing bigger and better things with my life, has ruined previous relationships I have had and has made me question myself on countless occasions. However, we have a choice in life. Adapt or perish. We can choose to let this disgusting black shadow engulf our lives in sadness and uncertainty, or we can fight back and not let it rule our lives. Here are your only two choices. Fight, or lose.
Exercise and fitness has always had its place in my life. However, little did I know that the psychological benefits that come from exercise would by far exceed the physical benefits. I always liked to exercise, however I didn’t know that i NEEDED to exercise. As I got older and struggled to battle my depression, the only time I felt great about myself was when I was playing sports, or going for a run, or lifting weights. The benefit of working out was actually helping battle my depression and I didn’t even consider how important exercise was for me in regards to my mental health and wellbeing.
Working out can lead to increased levels of hormones and changes in the neurotransmitter levels. Exercising regularly can lead to increased levels of dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine and glutamate in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in the central nervous system. Low levels of dopamine usually trigger off depression, whereas high levels of dopamine are produced with pleasurable activities such as eating, exercising or sex.
Serotonin plays an important role in learning and memory, particularly in the acquisition and retrieval of short term memories but also low levels have a link to depression and does play a role in it. Usually people with lower levels of serotonin are more likely to be linked with depression as opposed to someone with higher levels of serotonin.
Norepinephrine is generally responsible for the “fight or flight” response where adrenaline is released into the blood stream and thus increasing heart rate, glucose levels and blood flow which enhances alertness and arousal. However, Norepinephrine has therapeutic uses as well and if not enough is present, it can lead to issues such as lack of motivation, lack of energy and depression.
It has been proven that one hour a day of exercise of physical activity can boost the levels of all these hormones and it is an alternative to taking antidepressant medications which can chemically raise these levels as opposed to them occuring naturally. The benefits that exercise can have on your mental wellbeing is well documented.
As a long time sufferer of depression and anxiety, exercise has been a substantial help to me and has boosted my moods and confidence levels astronomically. Sometimes the most rewarding sessions are the ones that you cannot be bothered doing. You might feel flat and tired at times, but the best thing for you to do is to muster up the strength and energy and battle through a gruelling session. Your brain will thank you for it.
Mobile Personal Training Specialist
4 U Body Fitness.