New York, Feb 11 (IANS) If you feel down and out most of the time, try meditation coupled with aerobic exercises twice a week for just two months to beat the blues forever, finds a study, adding that this mind and body combination reduced the symptoms of depression by 40 percent in the study participants.
“We are excited by the findings because we saw such a meaningful improvement in both clinically depressed and non-depressed students,” said lead author Brandon Alderman from Rutgers University’s school of arts and sciences.
“It is the first time that both of these two behavioural therapies have been looked at together for dealing with depression,” added Alderman in a paper published in the journal Translational Psychiatry.
The researchers discovered that this combination of mental and physical training enabled students with major depressive disorder not to let problems or negative thoughts overwhelm them.
Scientists have known for a while that both of these activities alone can help with depression.
“But this study suggests that when done together, there is a striking improvement in depressive symptoms along with increases in synchronised brain activity,” noted Tracey Shors, professor in the department of psychology.
It was an eight-week programme and the participants began with 30 minutes of focused attention meditation followed by 30 minutes of aerobic exercise.
They were told that if their thoughts drifted to the past or the future they should refocus on their breathing – enabling those with depression to accept moment-to-moment changes in attention.
The results showed that 22 participants suffering with depression and 30 mentally healthy students reported fewer depressive symptoms.
According to them, they did not spend as much time worrying about negative situations taking place in their lives as they did before the study began.
“By learning to focus their attention and exercise, people who are fighting depression can acquire new cognitive skills that can help them process information and reduce the overwhelming recollection of memories from the past,” Shors noted.