Protect yourself against depression.
“Stop crying”, she told herself. But she couldn’t. The tears continued to well within her eyes, then flow down her cheeks. So many tears. Conscious thoughts drifted through her mind, but seemed distant. Foreign. Strange. She could not catch them. There was no feeling. No emotion. She was numb. Dead inside. She was at a place past feeling. A place past caring. Her body was heavy. Slow. Tired. So tired. Worn. So worn. The tears continued to flow.
“Smile”. She could not smile. Her face drooped. Her eyes half closed. To open them took energy she did not have. They looked without seeing. She could not focus them.
“Get up”. She just wanted to roll into a ball. To hide under the covers of her bed. Warm. Alone. Please leave me alone.
“Eat”. She cannot eat. Food is just another thing for which she has no energy. No desire.
“You love the park. Let’s go to the park”. No. No park. No people. No going out. Leave me alone. Just leave me alone.
She starts to whimper. No. Not whimper. Scream. A silent scream. Her fist is in her mouth as she tries to muffle the noise. To stop the screaming. It’s too much. Too much. I can’t do it anymore. It’s too hard.
Depression. Hideous depression. Around 1 million Australians have depression. With a current population of around 24 million, that’s 1 in 24 people who have depression. And it’s debilitating. It may not look like the story above, but depression significantly impacts a person’s ability to function in all kinds of areas.
The good news? A new study led by the Black Dog Institute has found that 12 per cent of cases of depression (that’s 120, 000 people) could have been prevented by one hour of physical activity a week. Published in the October 2017 American Journal of Psychiatry, the study found that even small amounts of exercise can protect against depression, with mental health benefits seen regardless of age or gender.
In the study a “healthy” cohort of 33,908 adults who had no symptoms of mental health issues or limiting physical health conditions, was followed for 11 years. Various measures were collected over the years including measures of exercise, depression, anxiety, socio-economic status etc. Results showed that people who initially reported doing no exercise at all had a 44% increased chance of developing depression compared to those who were exercising one to two hours a week.
Associate Professor Samuel Harvey from the Black Dog Institute and UNSW commented that, “These findings are exciting because they show that even relatively small amounts of exercise – from one hour per week – can deliver significant protection against depression. If we can find ways to increase the population’s level of physical activity even by a small amount, then this is likely to bring substantial physical and mental health benefits.”