A guy who is 100 pounds overweight, with no friends, girlfriend, or job, who sits at home playing video games is supposed to be depressed. That’s the way nature has evolved us. In the game of survival of the fittest, it feels good to be the alpha male and it feels bad not to be. If it wasn’t that way, what reason would a guy have to go out and succeed? Failure is supposed to hurt, so we avoid it. Success is supposed to feel good, so we seek it. If a person can sit at home, loaded on Prozac, completely happy with their worthless life, what reason do they have to better themselves? None. This is a huge problem, not only for them, but for the society they should be contributing to.
Consider this. One hundred years ago, antidepressants didn’t exist, and natural selection was still functioning relatively well. Girls who were extremely emotionally unbalanced had a difficult time finding a man willing to marry them and have kids. In other words, through natural selection, the girls with the most problems had the least kids. This is a good thing because our species got stronger as the weakness was bred out. In the 1950′s when the first antidepressant Iproniazid hit the public, everything changed. It didn’t take long before every housewife in America was loaded on happy pills. Shortly following the women, guys started taking them also. Today we are literally breeding weakness into our species by sweeping it under the rug with drugs. The emotionally unfit can simply cover up the symptoms, mate just as easily as the fit, and have lots of children. The result is a greater percentage of the population with the very same problem these drugs were created to combat, and it will get worse generation after generation.
Am I saying that depressed people need to be weeded out of society? Not exactly. What I’m saying is that antidepressants need to be prescribed only when every other option has been exhausted. Rather than allowing pharmaceutical companies to spend billions of dollars on advertisements asking the public if they ever feel “down” (which is everyone) and paying doctors every time they give out Prozac like it’s candy, we need to prescribe exercise.
A study conducted at Duke University in the late 1990′s divided depressed patients into three treatment groups. The first group was treated with exercise only. The second group was treated with exercise and antidepressant medication. The third group was treated with antidepressant medication only. At six weeks the drug only group was doing only slightly better than the other two groups. After 10 months however, the exercise only group was doing the best. Yes, even better than the exercise and drug group. Like I said, for the vast majority of people suffering from depression, antidepressant drugs hurt them.
The bottom line is that studies show 30 minutes of high intensity aerobic exercise 3 to 5 times a week will cut depressive symptoms by over 50%. That is very impressive when you consider that exercise is free and has a plethora of other health benefits. This is why in some countries like the UK, antidepressants are not used as the first line of therapy for mild to moderate depression. Doctors there write out a prescription to see an exercise counselor instead.
Besides regulating the happy chemicals in your brain, serotonin and norepinephrine, after about two weeks exercise turns on genes that increase galanin, a neurotransmitter that lowers your body’s stress response. Testosterone also increases naturally, and the more of that a guy has in his system, the less of a chance you will find him in the corner of a dark room crying like a little girl. And let’s not forget those endorphins. I love endorphins, they are the number one reason I go to the gym. I do between one and two hours of weights, followed by one hour of cardio that holds my heart rate at 80% to 90% of my maximum heart rate. By the time I leave the gym, I’m feeling nothing short of euphoria.
We live in a world where everyone wants a pill to make them look good and feel good. The truth is our bodies evolved over thousands of years to do one hour of strenuous exercise a day which gives you all that. Healthy, happy, and sane is paid for in the gym with sweat, end of story.
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