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“A brisk 30-minute walk or jog around the track three times a week may be just as effective in relieving the symptoms of major depression as the standard treatment of anti-depressant medications, according to the results of a Duke University Medical Center study.”
Quite the exciting headline, no? This news will probably be all over the front pages of newspapers and magazines. Only it won’t. And it wasn’t.
This bit of news comes from a study done in 1999. 1999! 9 years ago!
There have been follow-up studies since then that have proven the exact same thing. Yet the only place you may see these results are in tiny blurbs on the pages of health magazines. And still the number of Americans taking anti-depressants continues to increase. And when was the last time you heard of a doctor prescribing exercise to a depressed patient?
What is going on here? On one level, pharmaceutical companies have a vested interest in downplaying these kind of stories. News programs and magazines are stuffed full of ads for the newest pill promising to cure the most recently discovered and suddenly pressing ailment. Media companies do not want to tick Big Pharma off.
Yet the American people are to blame as well. We live in a culture that is constantly seeking instant results and the chance to get something for nothing. People want benefits without work and happiness without sacrifice. Psychologist Roger P. Greenberg, PhD, in an interview with WebMD put it well:
“[Greenberg] says it is understandable that the SSRIs have become so popular in such a short time, despite the lack of data showing them to be effective. Both patients and their physicians, he adds, have adopted a “fast-mood mentality,” where the quick fix is expected for the treatment of depression.
“The notion that depression is caused by a biochemical imbalance that is easily treated with drugs has taken hold in recent years because it provides this easy solution…Biochemical imbalance is a handy catch phrase, but there is not a lot of evidence that there is such a thing.””
Despite the fact that antidepressants are a quick fix, their usage is not without consequences. Tremors, nausea, weight gain, and what could be most worrisome to men-loss of libido-are all potential side effects.
Contrast that with exercise. Exercise is not only just as effective as antidepressants, its side effects are all beneficial. Weight loss and increased libido are frequent results. Best of all, exercise will help boost your confidence. James Blumenthal, a psychologist and the lead researcher in the Duke study, argued that exercise is so beneficial because the “patients are actually taking an active role in trying to get better.”
“Simply taking a pill is very passive,” he said. “Patients who exercised may have felt a greater sense of mastery over their condition and gained a greater sense of accomplishment. They felt more self-confident and had better self-esteem because they were able to do it themselves, and attributed their improvement to their ability to exercise.
Today we live in a vacuum of personal responsibility. Instead of surrendering their faith in willpower and work, men must once again take pride in being in control of their life and body.
A Caveat: Please note that we are not Scientologists and not in cahoots with Tom Cruise. We won’t accuse you for being glib if you disagree. But we do believe men need to start manning up and taking responsibility for themselves and their happiness.
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