When common sense contradicts the news about depression

The big news in the news this week was that exercise doesn’t help depression after all. A research study, by the University of Bristol and UWE, with 361 participants found that there was no difference in depression alleviation between a group that exercised and a control group.

The BBC and the Guardian led with the idea that exercise is no help for depression. Neurobonkers took a look at the research and said the following:

Simply telling depressed people to exercise does not help relieve symptoms of depression

That seems to make more sense to me. When research suggests something that goes against common sense, there is usually something wrong with the research or with its interpretation. Here’s the quotation taken from the paper:

“The aspiration was for the participants to engage in moderate or vigorous activity for 150 minutes a week in bouts of at least 10 minutes, but if that seemed unrealistic then the facilitator encouraged any increase in physical activity, whatever the intensity. The intervention programme comprised an initial hour long face to face assessment session followed by two short telephone contacts, then a further face to face meeting for half an hour. Over the course of 6-8-months, the physical activity facilitator offered up to eight further telephone contacts and one more face to face half hour meeting.”

Chalder, M. Wiles, N. Campbell, J. Hollinghurst, S. Haase, A. Taylor, A. Fox, K. Costelloe, C. Searle, A. Baxter, H. Winder, R. Wright, C. Turner, K., & Calnan, M. Lawlor, D. Peters, T. Sharp, D. Montgomery, A. Lewis, G. (2012). Facilitated physical activity as a treatment for depressed adults: randomised controlled trial. BMJ, 344 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.e2758

See Neurobonkers for the explanation.

One response to “When common sense contradicts the news about depression

  1. Yes, I got a bit annoyed by this study. They didn’t record the level of exercise patients were already doing and they didn’t record whether the exercise facilitator did actually get them exercising more. But of course papers were quick to jump on it anyhow.

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