All runners know that running is a massive stress reliever and we know that running is at least as effective at treating depression as anti-depressants, without the side effects. It may also be somewhat addictive (in a generally positive way) in that it hits the brain’s reward centre in a similar way to some drugs – marijuana, chocolate and running have been shown to have similar effects here.
So my question to you is – if you have suffered or are suffering from depression, anxiety, stress, insomnia, PMT etc. were you advised by your doctor to try exercise as a treatment before medication?
Thinking back to my own long period of depression and occasional shorter bouts since, I don’t EVER remember being offered anything other than medication and counselling from day one. I had to discover totally for myself that exercise was the remedy and it took a long time for the penny to drop that the mind and body were one and that this wasn’t solely a disorder of the mind.
So why is it still being treated as such? Is it anything to do with the pharmaceutical companies do you think or is it just ignorance or the easy way out for everybody?
To my mind, this faith and reliance on medication to solve what are often really quite easy to solve lifestyle issues is a big problem. I see people every day who are on massive numbers of pills for all kinds of problems – blood pressure, ‘cholesterol’ (that one always makes me laugh), depression, anxiety and very often it seems that many of these medications are to address the side effects of other medications.
We know that all of these issues and so many more are largely the result of lifestyle choices, relating to exercise, nutrition and poor sleep, yet we keep pretending it’s something else so we can put money into the pockets of the drugs companies and give the sufferer a simpler option in the short term that just exacerbates the problem long term and also costs the NHS (i.e.us) a fortune.
I’m not saying that medication should never be used. Just that it surely makes sense to suggest the obvious, free, no side effects option first and only to use medication when all else has failed. After all, so many of these drugs seem to have detrimental effects and it’s clearly crazy to be interfering with our biochemistry unless absolutely essential. When you consider that it has been perfecting itself in the course of evolution for millions of years! Surely any malfunction is far more likely to be the result of our interaction with the environment than some missing chemical that the body was just not clever enough to produce for itself!
What about you? Do you have any experience of this as patient or prescriber? Maybe we should start getting angry about all this stuff and not just accept it? But probably more effectively you can make your views known through social media and by asking probing questions – like asking your medical practitioner why a certain drug is being prescribed, what exact studies there are to support its use, (other than those carried out by the drugs companies themselves!), what are the short term and long term effects and are there other better options, like lifestyle changes.
Do you really want to, in effect, outsource your well-being to somebody who may be being ‘lent on’, directly or indirectly, by vested interests like drugs companies who are not at all interested in your health, only their bottom line?
If you suffer from anxiety or depression and would like to try exercise, talk to your GP first, then come and see me for a programme that just gets you moving, inside or outside of the gym, and see how much better you feel.
David 07504439555 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.