Who Could Benefit From Exercise and Behavioral Treatment?

August 24, 2020

Aerobic exercise clearly benefits young adults with major depression, and a Rutgers-led study suggests it may be possible to predict those who would benefit from behavioral therapy with exercise.

"Our study needs to be replicated, but the precision medicine approach of predicting who may or may not benefit from exercise as an antidepressant is provocative," said senior author Brandon L. Alderman, an associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. "We also need to know whether exercise has a similar antidepressant effect in younger adolescents and in adults with more treatment-resistant forms of depression who have not responded well to traditional treatments, including antidepressants and cognitive behavioral therapy."

Unique to this precision medicine study, published in the journal Psychological Medicine, is an assessment of cognitive control and reward-related brain activity, two facets of brain function that are impaired in people with depression. Like previous studies, this one showed that aerobic exercise helps young adults with major depression.

Cognitive control means processes that allow adjustments in behavior to help achieve goals and resist distractions. Reward processing (or reward-related brain activity) reflects the response to rewarding stimuli or outcomes and the ability to process and then modulate your response to positive and negative outcomes, such as loss. Deficits in reward processing have been linked to multiple psychiatric conditions, including major depression, and may reflect anhedonia - the loss of interest in or inability to experience pleasure in cases of depression.

Many people with major depression, a complex disease, do not respond favorably to evidence-based treatments. Depression symptoms include feelings of hopelessness, irritability, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and thoughts of suicide, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. People suffering from depression often seek effective treatment using a trial-and-error approach. They move in and out of various treatments, including antidepressants and cognitive behavioral therapies, according to Alderman.

The Rutgers-led team studied 66 young adults with major depression, focusing on aerobic exercise and its impact on depressive symptoms. Three times a week for eight weeks, some participants did moderate-intensity aerobic exercise and others did light-intensity stretching. Depression symptoms were reduced by 55 percent in the aerobic exercise group versus 31 percent in the light-intensity stretching group.

While aerobic exercise did not influence reward processing or cognitive control, people with better reward processing when the study began were more likely to successfully respond to exercise treatment.
-end-
The lead author is C.J. Brush, who earned a doctorate at Rutgers and is now at Florida State University. Rutgers co-authors include Anthony J. Bocchine and Andrew A. Ude, both doctoral students, and Kristina M. Muniz, a former undergraduate research assistant who is now at the University of Virginia Health System. A scientist at Purdue University contributed to the study.

Rutgers University

Related Depression Articles from Brightsurf:

Children with social anxiety, maternal history of depression more likely to develop depression
Although researchers have known for decades that depression runs in families, new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York, suggests that children suffering from social anxiety may be at particular risk for depression in the future.

Depression and use of marijuana among US adults
This study examined the association of depression with cannabis use among US adults and the trends for this association from 2005 to 2016.

Maternal depression increases odds of depression in offspring, study shows
Depression in mothers during and after pregnancy increased the odds of depression in offspring during adolescence and adulthood by 70%.

Targeting depression: Researchers ID symptom-specific targets for treatment of depression
For the first time, physician-scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have identified two clusters of depressive symptoms that responded to two distinct neuroanatomical treatment targets in patients who underwent transcranial magnetic brain stimulation (TMS) for treatment of depression.

A biological mechanism for depression
Researchers report that in depressed individuals there are increased amounts of an unmodified structural protein, called tubulin, in lipid rafts compared with non-depressed individuals.

Depression in adults who are overweight or obese
In an analysis of primary care records of 519,513 UK adults who were overweight or obese between 2000-2016 and followed up until 2019, the incidence of new cases of depression was 92 per 10,000 people per year.

Why stress doesn't always cause depression
Rats susceptible to anhedonia, a core symptom of depression, possess more serotonin neurons after being exposed to chronic stress, but the effect can be reversed through amygdala activation, according to new research in JNeurosci.

Which comes first: Smartphone dependency or depression?
New research suggests a person's reliance on his or her smartphone predicts greater loneliness and depressive symptoms, as opposed to the other way around.

Depression breakthrough
Major depressive disorder -- referred to colloquially as the 'black dog' -- has been identified as a genetic cause for 20 distinct diseases, providing vital information to help detect and manage high rates of physical illnesses in people diagnosed with depression.

CPAP provides relief from depression
Researchers have found that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can improve depression symptoms in patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases.

Read More: Depression News and Depression Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.