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Two-Pronged Attack on Depression

Study to examine whether exercise and antidepressants can cure the illness

FRIDAY, Feb. 13, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- American researchers are conducting a study to determine if regular exercise combined with certain antidepressants can cure major depressive disorder.

The study will focus on people taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), the most widely prescribed medications for depression. Study participants will also take part in a 24-week exercise program. The study is being done by researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and The Cooper Institute in Dallas.

"The majority of people who start on an SSRI feel better after they begin treatment, but they still don't feel completely well or as good as they did before they became depressed. While their symptoms are reduced, they seldom get to full remission," Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, an associate professor of psychiatry and head of the depression and anxiety disorders program at UT Southwestern, says in a prepared statement.

"Exercise may have a synergistic or additive effect combined with antidepressant medication, which could provide significant benefits over singular treatment methods," Trivedi says.

"There is also some suggestion that exercise can change neurotransmitter levels, like those of serotonin, in the brain," Trivedi says. "These changes in neurochemicals have been reported to help improve symptoms of depression. Plus, we already know that exercise can have a positive effect on a person's overall health and well-being."

"The goal of this study is to determine if exercise can help augment the SSRI treatment to the point of reducing all the symptoms of depression," Trivedi says.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about depression.

SOURCE: UT Southwestern, news release, February 2004
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