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Friday, February 19, 2016

Exercise, Meditation a Double Threat for Major Depression

A combination of aerobic exercise and focused-attention meditation performed twice weekly significantly improves symptoms of major depressive disorder (MDD) after just 8 weeks, new research shows.

"[We found that] combining these two important behaviors into people's lives might be particularly beneficial," lead author Brandon Alderman, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Exercise Science at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, told Medscape Medical News.

"The data show meaningful improvements in cognitive function and symptoms of depression," he added.

Meditation and exercise are both commonly recommended for the treatment of depression. However, there have been no studies of the benefits of the two measures combined as a structured intervention, the authors report.

The study was published online February 2 in Translational Psychiatry.

Significant Symptom Reduction

For the study, the investigators enrolled 52 participants in Rutgers' counseling and psychiatric services clinic, including 22 with a diagnosis of nonpsychotic MDD (5 men, 17 women) and 30 healthy control participants (10 men, 20 women) who had no diagnosis of MDD and no previous or current history of neuropsychiatric disorders or head injuries.

All participants received the intervention, dubbed mental and physical (MAP) training. The regimen consisted of two sessions per week, beginning with 30 minutes of the focused-attention mediation followed by 30 minutes of aerobic exercise.

After the 8-week intervention, patients with MDD were found to have a significant reduction in depressive symptoms, as assessed on the basis of self-reported measures on the Beck Depression Inventory–II (BDI-II), as well improvement in overall rumination measures, compared with baseline and with healthy control particpants (both P < .001).


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