Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Why Exercise Can Help Fight Teen Depression

Are you a parent who is worried about your teen?  Has their behavior changed recently and you think they might be depressed?  If your teen is depressed, you’ve probably looked into antidepressants and found yourself even more concerned, and you should be.  Drugs designed to fight depression in adults can actually increase the incidence of suicide and other destructive behavior in teens.  There are other options.  While seriously depressed teens should visit a therapist, some symptoms can also be alleviated through regular exercise.  Exercise works directly and indirectly to help relive many of your teen’s depression symptoms.

this very special mood
(Photo credit: Eddi van W.)
While there are other benefits, exercise itself can directly improve the mood of your teen.  Exercising produces chemicals in your system that work to improve your mood.  While the effect is short term, regular exercise can help improve your teen’s mood even when they’re not exercising.  As an added bonus, many children and teens in this country are overweight and obese.  Regular exercise will help fight these diseases and leave your child healthier as well.  And when you’re healthy you feel better and are less worn down.

A major factor in teen depression is low self esteem.  By helping your child improve their physical appearance, you can help improve the way they feel about themselves.  Regular exercise will help your child look and feel better.  Even if physical results are minimal, exercise can help make your child feel better about the way they look.

As I already said, low self esteem is a big factor in teen depression, but it’s not entirely determined by how they look.  A lot of teens opinions about themselves come from how they think others feel about them.  There are plenty of exercise opportunities for teens that involve socializing, such as team sports.  These will allow your child to meet new people and make new friends.  Even if they’re not good enough to make their school’s team, there are plenty of other opportunities through the YMCA and other sport clubs.

Tennis teen
 (Photo credit: Spree2010)
One big factor in determining whether or not a teen will become depressed is whether or not they have a depressed parent.  A teen with a depressed parent may be up to 6 times more likely to become depressed than other teens.  This may be caused by genetics, or simply by becoming depressed through exposure.  Whatever the reason, there’s great news.  All the depression fighting benefits of exercise for teens also apply to adults.  So if you’re feeling a little down, why not take your teen to the gym or out for a run around the block.  You’ll not only be exercising, you’ll also have some quality time to spend with your child. 

So talk to your teen, and then get them up and moving.  With regular exercise, there's a good chance your son or daughter will soon be feeling much better.

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