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Depression leads to Sedentary Lifestyle

23 Nov 2016

Morzan was an athlete. He was practicing hard to quality in a major tournament that would change his life and career. However, he could not qualify in the end. Since then, Morzan felt depressed. Though his coach and friends tried their best to motivate him to keep up his practice and let go of this failure, Morzan could not bring himself back to the field anymore. He sat back at home, fiddled with his phone, hardly talked to anyone. He could not believe he could do it anymore. To him, the hopes of being a start athlete had been dashed by one single incident.


Before marriage, Talash worked as an event manager. It gave her an active social life and made her travel a lot. She liked to take charge of situations and work them through. Talash had to relocate after marriage, and it put her out of her social circle. She had to quit as her in laws did not approve of her regular traveling. She was not asked of her opinion on anything, she was simply ordered and expected to follow through. Outings were limited to visiting relatives and discussing mundane things to which she could never relate. Talash became depressed. She kept to her room mostly, not talking to anyone and cried a lot. She neglected the daily activities as she could not bring herself to be active anymore. She sat silently for hours and would watch mindless tv.


Research suggests than sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of depression up to 25%. But is it not the other way round too? In both the cases, Morzan & Talash had an onset of depression due to other reasons, while the depression gradually pushed them to a sedentary lifestyle. The primary symptoms of depression include lowering of activities as well as lack of motivation. The cognitive model by Aron Beck suggests that depression creates a ‘Learned Helplessness’ among people, who could not even believe that there is a way out of this misery anymore.


Depression also induces or influences other physical symptoms. The commonest among them are:


a.  Depression and stress may have a negative impact on the immune system, making you more vulnerable to infections and diseases.


b. Depressive symptoms include inability to concentrate, memory problems, and difficulty making decisions. People with depression may have trouble maintaining a normal work schedule or fulfill social obligations.


c.  Some people who are depressed may use alcohol or drugs. They may become reckless or abusive. A depressed person may consciously avoid talking about it or try to mask the problem.


d. People suffering from depression may be preoccupied with thoughts of death or hurting themselves. There’s an increased risk of suicide.


e.  Depression can affect the appetite. Some people cope by overeating or binging. This can lead to weight and obesity-related illnesses like type 2 diabetes. Others lose their appetite or fail to eat nutritious food. Eating problems can lead to stomachaches, cramps, constipation, or malnutrition.


f.    Depression and stress are closely related. Stress hormones speed heart rate and make blood vessels tighten, putting your body in a prolonged state of emergency. Over time, this can lead to heart disease.


g. According to Harvard Medical School, patients who are depressed when hospitalized for a heart condition are two to five times likelier to have severe chest pain, heart attack, or stroke, in the next year. Recurrence of cardiovascular problems is linked more closely to depression than to smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. Untreated, depression raises the risk of dying after a heart attack.


A new study published in BMJ Sports Medicine demonstrated that there was a clear link between sedentary lifestyle and depression. The study involved searching throughout a variety of research vaults for studies related to sedentary behavior and depression risk. Results from this meta-analysis suggest that if you exhibit sedentary behavior, you are more likely to be depressed, and vice versa. It can be assumed that if you get adequate physical exercise on a daily basis, you are less likely to be depressed. Additionally researchers note that promoting physical activity among those who suffer from depression may be beneficial for symptom reduction.


§  Exercise can reduce depression: It is already widely known that there are many prominent psychological benefits of exercise, including the reduction of stress and depression. Exercise is known to stimulate neurogenesis (growth of new brain cells), release mood-lifting chemicals called “endorphins,” and release neurotransmitters such as dopamine associated with feelings of pleasure.


§  Exercise improves physical appearance: Due to the correlation between obesity / being overweight and depression, exercising could help these individuals lose weight. Those who are sedentary are likely to have slower metabolisms and develop obesity, which may result in an unwanted physical appearance and inevitably depression. The improvement in appearance (both objective and subjective) from exercise may contribute to an antidepressant effect in certain individuals.


§  Reach out and stay supported: Social support is absolutely essential to depression recovery. Staying connected to other people and the outside world will make a world of difference in your mood and outlook. And if you don’t feel that you have anyone to turn to, it’s never too late to build new friendships and improve your support network.


§  Expose yourself to a little sunlight every day: Lack of sunlight can make depression worse. Take a short walk outdoors, have your coffee outside, people-watch on a park bench, or sit out in the garden. Aim for at least 15 minutes of sunlight a day to boost your mood.

Talking is a powerful way of combating your depression. If you feel bad, don’t let anyone tell you it’s no big deal or that you’ll just get over it. There is nothing shameful about recognizing you have a problem you alone cannot seem to resolve and to seek the help of a therapist. Asking for help is a brave act and speaking to a therapist is a healthy, productive endeavor from which every individual would benefit. Learning about the source of your pain can truly help alleviate its impact on your life by helping you to recognize and combat your critical inner voice.

Tags: depression well being lifestyle