The Effect of Physical Exercise as an Adjunctive Treatment to the Usual Treatment for Major Depressive Disorder: An Integrative Review

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Date
2017
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Saudi Digital Library
Abstract
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a leading cause of disability around the world. The current treatment approach for MDD is limited. Physical exercise is a suggested treatment for depression and the use of exercise as an adjunctive therapy to the usual treatment of depression has received significant attention. The aim of this thesis is to evaluate whether physical exercise as an adjunctive therapy leads to an extra reduction in depressive symptoms compared with using the usual treatments alone. An integrative review was conducted by a systematic search in Scopus and PsycINFO databases. The search yielded 100articles, which were narrowed to 15 articles based on inclusion and exclusion criteria. The review found that using exercise as an adjunctive therapy to the usual treatment of depression decreased depressive symptoms more than using the usual treatment alone. It also found that this effect is not influenced by factors such as type of exercise, as aerobic and resistance exercise lead to the same effect. In addition, it found that exercise programs of short- and medium-duration were more effective than programs of a longer duration, and that hospital- and public-based exercise were more effective than home-based exercise. However, this review cannot determine whether the effect of using exercise as an adjunctive therapy to the usual treatments might be different based on the severity of depression and the patient’s age. This review suggests that using short and moderate programs of exercise as an adjunctive therapy to the usual treatment of depression can be an effective way to improve the depressive symptoms among adult patients with MDD.
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Keywords
physical exercise, exercise therapy, aerobic exercise, adjunctive therapy, add-on therapy, depression, MDD, depressive disorder, major depression, antidepressant drugs and antidepressant agents
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