For heart disease patients who also struggle with depression, exercise may offer as much relief from depressive symptoms as do prescription drugs, say researchers from Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina.
Researchers wanted to compare the effectiveness of exercise and antidepressant medications for alleviating depression, which is fairly common in people with heart disease. Scientists recruited 101 patients for a 4-month randomized, controlled trial. One group attended exercise sessions three times per week for a total of 90 minutes; another took Zoloft®; and a third group took a placebo pill.
Both exercise and medication led to a reduction in depressive symptoms. Patients who participated in exercise, however, had less fatigue and fewer sexual problems than those on prescription drugs. Study authors recommended further research. The findings appeared in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (2012; doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2012.04.040).