I’m not advocating going off your prescribed medication. Not at all, going off psychotropic medications must be done under the supervision of your doctor and never just a complete stop. Running should not be the sole treatment for depression, but it’s my firm belief that it is a necessary component of treatment. Also always talk with your doctor before starting an exercise program if you have any chronic or serious health issues (see the lawyer in me showing). With that said, let’s see what the psychological benefits of running are.
Running boosts self-esteem because you’re body improves and you feel like you are accomplishing something as you improve in your times or your distance. Running also releases endorphins, which trigger positive emotions. The “runners high” is a real thing people. This feeling of euphoria can change your outlook on your day and if you run daily, it can change your life.
I know I’m talking about running specifically here, but any type of moderate exercise is going to bring up your mood. The difficulty is getting started when you don’t have any motivation and don’t even feel like getting out of bed.
If this is you, start with something light such as yoga and definitely get someone to go with you. Pick someone who can give you some tough love and really support and validate your feelings and accept where you are with an open heart.
Next think about activities you enjoyed in your past and whether or not you like group activities or individual. A class may be the perfect thing for one person, and individual tennis lessons may be better for someone else. You should pick something that fits well in your schedule and eliminate any excuses you see yourself coming up with when you are having a difficult day.
Start small with twenty to thirty minutes three days a week, and as you feel better, you can increase your duration and/or the number of days each week.
It’s hard and you are going to have to force yourself to get started, but in the long run you will be glad you did.