Depression: Why Exercise Can Help (part 1: what is depression?)

Eve Bae

With around 16.1 million Americans affected by major depressive disorder and around 3.3 million American adults affected by persistent depressive disorder1, it is imperative for health care professionals to figure out how to help patients suffering with their disorder. These statistics even exclude children and those under the age of legal adulthood, making the number of afflicted patients most likely greater. With the different types and degrees of severity of depression, it is difficult to state that there is one encompassing solution for this multifaceted diagnosis.

Depression is a state of being characterized by multiple symptoms such as depressed mood, diminished interest or pleasure, fatigue, negative feelings of worthlessness, difficulties with concentration or thinking which impair the patient’s daily life activities. The patient must have been feeling this way for at least the same 2 week period and all symptoms must be caused solely by this disorder. This condition can have a biological, social, or even environmental base. Researchers have found that people suffering from depression have a smaller hippocampus and other biological differences, which differentiate them from those who do not suffer from this condition. Another area explored and hypothesized is the role neurotransmitters play in this disorder. Harvard researchers, doctors, and psychologists acknowledge that the brain is a dynamic system with no one neurotransmitter as the sole cause for all patients but there may be different problematic neurotransmitters for each patient. When the fragile balance of serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, glutamate, and/or GABA is disrupted, it affects the brain and ultimately the patient, influencing their moods, emotions, and behavior.

If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit

So how can exercise help this difficult disorder? Onto Part 2!

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