Treating Mild to Moderate Depression: Should You Pop That Pill or Lift the Barbell?

One fine day, out of the blue, Mr. Simple had a hard time getting out of bed. His shoulders felt heavy and his body tired. He couldn’t seem to fathom what had suddenly taken over his otherwise normal spirit. Was it the French onion soup he had last night at the restaurant, or was it the fact that his body was tired of functioning round the clock and he needed a holiday? He somehow managed to lift himself out of bed and went to the kitchen for his regular caffeine fix.

On his way to work, he called his psychiatrist, Dr. Smart to talk about this strange heaviness that he was feeling all of a sudden. He had been diagnosed with depression some few months back. No, he wasn’t sad, he had no reason to be sad, he wasn’t ungrateful and he certainly didn’t chose to remain depressed. He would do anything to get rid of this inhospitable illness (yes, it is a disease).

“Go off your medication for some time, Mr. Simple. By the day more and more research has been stemming up to prove how exercise is one of the best anti-depressants. Since you’re already making time for yoga once a week, I would like you to start going to the gym for weight training too. We will then track your progress in two months from now.” Said Dr. Smart.

A year later, although Mr. Simple still had depression, his symptoms were somewhat under control and he resorted to progressive training to boost his mood, and his only medication.

We live in a big world full of chaotic contradictions, where we label ourselves to fit into virtual boxes in space, by way of profiles and bios that require us to pretend to be sorted and happy. Social media is nothing but a highlight reel, where everyone puts up a façade to show off a make-believe perfect life. It is quite normal to get intimidated, feel left out (#FOMO), and fall into the hands of low self-esteem. Added to that, all the day to day problems that we face in our real lives behind the scenes, be it relationship issues or financial stress, it is quite easy to get sucked into this hollow black hole called depression.

Most people don’t even acknowledge that depression is an illness, it is not merely sadness. This illness can even lead to chronic alcoholism, drug addiction or even overdose of the medication prescribed by doctors.

Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?

Well of course there is, exercise is your answer.

A combination of strength and endurance training is the way to go. No, this is not a joke. In a research done on people suffering from depression and anxiety, it was shown that depression can be cured with training. Depression levels were brought down by 37% and anxiety levels by 27%. These may seem small numbers but they certainly aren’t. Staying healthy boosts your self-esteem, reduces stress levels, improves sleeping patterns, reduces fatigue and decreases the chances of suffering from depression.


So, let us together take a pledge on this World health day, to acknowledge this monster called depression, to stand by each other during this difficult phase, and to actively work on eliminating it – be it within us or our loved ones. Let’s make a pact to not just staying healthy physically but also mentally.

Author : Nida Aziz

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