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Few minutes of exercise can treat anxiety disorders, but its importance is overlooked

04-19-18 Category: Anxiety

Few minutes of exercise can treat anxiety disorders, but its importance is overlooked

Exercise is considered one of the most effective treatments for stress, anxiety and depression. But only few psychiatrists talk about it or recommend it to their patients as an effective intervention to treat anxiety disorders. The observation was made at the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) Conference 2018, held from April 5-8, 2018, where several studies were presented on the benefits of exercise on mental health. The researchers cited several reasons for not including exercise in a conventional treatment plan like limited availability of time with a psychiatrist, lack of exercising on the psychiatrist’s part and higher focus on treatment options that offer immediate relief.

One of the studies presented during the conference included a random analysis of 29 psychiatrists and psychiatry residents in Illinois who had responded to an anonymous survey. The study’s lead author Dawn C. Roberts, an associate professor of psychology at Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois, found that only 20 percent of the patients undergoing treatment for depression had received discussion about exercise from their doctor. She also stated that since the top priority of psychiatrists was to prevent patients from suicide and reduce longer stays in a hospital, exercise may not be an ideal choice initially.

Another study was conducted with 56 patients suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) who were randomly assigned either 12 weeks of an aerobic exercise program or 12 weeks of health education (control group). At the end of the study, the researchers observed a significant improvement in mood, anxiety and compulsion levels in the aerobic exercise group. However, one factor that remained unaffected was their obsessions.

Another study that assessed the benefits of exercising with lesser intensity on anxiety symptoms found that regular exercise for at least 50 minutes a day can lead to noticeable improvements in one’s sensitivity to getting anxious as well as an improvement in social and cognitive concern levels.

Begin with short-term goals

President of ADAA, Beth Salcedo, M.D., said that recommending regular exercise for shorter durations can work wonders. Hitting a gym daily for an hour is a big goal. It is better to plan short-term goals that are easier to attain, may be 10-minutes of walk. She shared her experience, “I often tell patients that 10 minutes daily of getting their heart rate up can benefit their overall medical health. If they can get out there for 10 minutes, it’s pretty likely they will do a little more also.”

Salcedo also said that even though she discusses exercise with around 95 percent of her patients, she is not at all surprised at the low rate of psychiatrists suggesting exercise as an interventional tool and keeping the discussion minimal. She added that since it is time-taking to convince a patient to try exercising as a treatment option, many psychiatrists don’t opt for it and she, herself, too has failed many a times in her attempt.

Recovery road map

Anxiety can affect anyone, but continuous worry or fear about unknown things can be crippling. According to the ADAA, nearly 18 percent of the American adult population experiences some form of an anxiety disorder every year. That’s close to 50 million people but not even half receive the needed treatment. Therefore, it is important to spread more awareness about the importance of mental health and make health care services at credible anxiety disorder treatment centers more accessible.

If you or your loved one is suffering from anxiety and looking for the best facilities in the U.S. that offer evidence-based and personalized anxiety disorder treatment, Sovereign Health can assist. We are the leaders in providing the best mental health care for people who wish to regain control of their lives. You can call our 24/7 helpline number or chat online with our representative to get complete details about the finest treatment for anxiety disorders.

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