Running Out On Depression

African American Black man running beach

We all know what running does for the body. Obviously, it burns fat. But running affects more than your physical state. It also does wonders for your mental state. Dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine,  “feel-good” chemicals, are released in your brain while exercising. For someone who is depressed, these chemical levels are rather low. Exercises like running temporarily raise these levels.

Routine running will make it so these levels stay higher on a daily basis, so yes, you can literally run out of depression. According to Dr. Belinda Newcomer the symptoms of depression are feelings of helplessness/hopelessness, a change in sleeping patterns (more or less), anger or irritability, frequent crying, a change in appetite, weight loss/gain, isolation, loss of energy, and reckless behavior.

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When scientists discovered that low levels of neurotransmitters in the brain are common amongst depressed individuals, a class of antidepressants known as SSRIs were created to combat the mental condition. Fortunately, exercises like running can produce the same effects and may even be longer lasting. As reported by The Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, while major depressive disorder is linked to a decrease in neurotransmitter production, exercise actually promotes the growth of tryptophan, one of the building blocks of serotonin.

Clinical psychologist Keith Johnsguard explains what happens when you are inactive. “A failure to exercise regularly has a significant bearing on the odds of suffering encounters with insidious, lurking villains that we would all prefer to avoid: cardiovascular disease, cancer, strokes, diabetes, to name a few. Those villains profoundly affect our mental health.”