News Release

Medication or exercise? What works best for seniors with mild to moderate depression?

Effectiveness of physical exercise in older adults with mild to moderate depression

Peer-Reviewed Publication

American Academy of Family Physicians

Depression is the most frequently diagnosed psychiatric disorder among older adults, with 8% to 16% of older patients presenting with clinically significant depressive symptoms. Researchers in Spain conducted a randomized clinical trial of 347 older adults with mild to moderate depression, comparing the effectiveness of physical exercise and antidepressants as treatment methods. Study participants were assigned to either a group engaged in supervised physical exercise or a group that received antidepressant treatment by their general practitioners. Depressive symptoms were not significantly different after one month between the two groups. However, after three and six months, the number of people who showed improvement was significantly higher in the antidepressant group. The authors note that the number of participants who withdrew from the study was higher in the physical activity group, while more adverse side-effects were reported in the group treated with antidepressants. Authors felt the advanced age of participants and the health problems and/or functional limitations common to older adults may have negatively influenced adherence to a six-month physical activity program.


Effectiveness of Physical Exercise in Older Adults With Mild to Moderate Depression

Jesús López-Torres Hidalgo, MD, et al

University of Castile-La Mancha and Albecete Zone VIII Health Center, Albacete, Spain

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