Your mental health and weightlifting
A NEW META-ANALYSIS OF 33 CLINICAL TRIALS SHOWED THAT WEIGHT TRAINING CAN REDUCE DEPRESSION. STUDIES SHOW THAT RNs DO EXPERIENCE DEPRESSION. CONSIDER WEIGHT TRAINING IN THE BATTLE AGAINST DEPRESSION. LOOK LIKE MADONNA AT 60!
YOUR MENTAL HEALTH AND WEIGHTLIFTING
Madonna just turned 60. But guess what? She might be happy too! A new meta-analysis of 33 clinical trials with 1877 subjects showed that weight training was beneficial in helping to reduce depression. Known as resistance exercise training or RET, it doesn't matter what level the person is at when they start or how often they lift weights. Aerobic exercise has already been shown to be helpful in lowering symptoms of depression. This was proved in a 2016 study that concluded that exercise had a protective effect against depression. The research proved that there is less of a chance someone will develop depression if they participate in exercise. Aerobic exercise such as at jogging and walking at a fast clip were the tools used. The program also had to have a start time and a completion time. Not just one day.
THE RN AND DEPRESSION
Two studies have examined the problem of RNs and depression. Depression has struck the RN anywhere from 18% to 41% depending on the study. Weight lifting has now been shown to be an effective treatment. You don't have to invest in fancy equipment or join a pricey gym to get results either. Many hospitals have employee health wellness centers with gyms that are at no cost or low cost for employees. Even if you don't go through employee health, you have two other options. Go the DIY route and buy a pair of weights. Starting out at 3 to 5 pounds or higher depending on your prior strength level usually works. Or go to a gym with a pay as you go option for the day and start lifting. Lifting weights will help the RN combat depression and may help her stay more productive at work longer.
SHOW ME THE EVIDENCE
Now weight training has solid evidence-based proof to back up this claim too. A 2017 study looked at weight training and anxiety. It concluded that anxiety and associated nervousness would lessen when participating in RET. This new study looked at the correlation between weightlifting and two factors regarding depression. The first factor was if it changed the start date of the depression and if it did just how hard the impact would be. Under that heading was another variable that determined how much someone had to lift to achieve a dent in their depression. The second factor was if there were any disparities between the sexes as well as the age and overall condition of the weightlifter.
THE GOLD STANDARD
They used what is known as "the gold standard" in research, that is looking at randomized studies using a control group or weight lifting group versus those who didn't go near a weight. Just to be thorough, the researchers also looked at the subjects' level of depression before and after lifting weights. In fact, they were able to sift through 33 studies that had the two variables of RET and depression. All over the records of 2000 participants were examined. Some of these people were labeled as depressed already. Looking at all these old studies provided the basis for the study's conclusion.
Two key findings emerged from this new study.
1. Lifting weights helped a depressed participant as well as someone who was not depressed at the outset as well. In fact, those participants who went into the study depression free and lifted weights emerged as less likely to experience being unhappy than those who never went near a weight.
2. The other key finding was that the amount of weight training was not a factor in staving off depression. You could become an obsessed gym rat and go twice a day to the gym to train or go for the minimum amount of time. The results were the same. Also, the amount of reps or repetitions, in weightlifter lingo, did not affect the outcome. In so far as age goes, it didn't matter if you were younger and a budding Schwarzenegger or more like Madonna and an aging Stallone, two middle-aged lifters. The impact on the elderly was the same too. Women sometimes worry about bulking up when they lift weights. Again, this study was not dependent on someone increasing their muscle mass.
A WORD OF CAUTION
The brain's neurochemicals are probably being affected by weight training according to one of the study's authors. There might also be what is known as an expected result after lifting weights. In other words, you expect to feel better, so you do. The researchers caution against stopping an antidepressant or canceling therapist visits if those are your treatments of choice even if you start lifting weights.
Weight Training May Help to Ease or Prevent Depression-New York Times
By Gretchen Reynolds. Published June 6, 2018. Accessed June 7, 2018.
Davidson, J, Mendis J, Stuck, AR, DeMichele, G, Zisook, S. Nurse suicide: breaking the silence. NAM Perspectives. Discussion Paper.National Academy of Medicine2018. Published 2018 1-12 nam.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Nurse-Suicide-Breaking-the-Silence.pdf.
Poll: HAVE YOU EVER LIFTED WEIGHTS WHEN YOU FEEL DOWN?
About Debi Fischer, BSN, RN
Debi Fischer RN BA BSN MSW LCSW is a nurse in a surgical oncology step down unit. Prior to that she worked in orthopedics and neurology. She has earned a master’s degree in social work and is also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.
Joined: Jun '14; Posts: 81; Likes: 98Sep 6Joined: Jul '17; Posts: 65; Likes: 82I really didn't want to go to the gym at all this week, then I saw your article... Thanks!