Over 2 million people ages 65-plus are affected by depression, and an estimated two-thirds of elderly patients treated for depression fail to achieve adequate symptom management with conventional drug therapy. Helen Lavretsky, from the University of California/Los Angeles (UCLA; California, USA), and colleagues investigated the role of Tai Chi, a Chinese wellness practice that has been previously associated with a variety of physical and mental health benefits, in ameleriorating the symptoms of depression in seniors. The team combined a weekly tai chi exercise class with a standard depression treatment for a group of depressed elderly adults, finding a greater improvement in the level of depression along with improved quality of life, better memory and cognition, and more overall energy than that achieved by a different group in which the standard treatment was paired with a weekly health education class. The researchers conclude that: “Complementary use of a mind-body exercise, such as [Tai Chi], may provide additional improvements of clinical outcomes in the pharmacologic treatment of geriatric depression.”
Lavretsky, Helen; Alstein, Lily L.; Olmstead, Richard E.; Ercoli, Linda M.; Riparetti-Brown, Marquertie; St. Cyr, Natalie; Irwin, Michael R. “Complementary Use of Tai Chi Chih Augments Escitalopram Treatment of Geriatric Depression: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 6 March 2011.
Regrowth of key adult brain cells (neurogenesis) is linked to the benefits of exercise as a stress reducer.
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