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Exercise could help lift postnatal depression

Exercise could help women cope with postnatal depression and should be considered instead of antidepressants and psychological therapies, a study suggests.

Exercise could help women cope with postnatal depression and should be considered instead of antidepressants and psychological therapies, a study suggests

depress
Aerobic exercise is a way to lift depression instead of medication and counselling.
 Picture: iStock

Exercise could help alleviate symptoms of postnatal depression, a new study has found.

Aerobic exercise should be considered as a management option for women who have recently given birth and are showing symptoms of depression, researchers say.

Physical activity could be a potential preventive measure among all postpartum women, they add.

Researchers from the University of Birmingham examined data from 13 trials covering 1,734 women.

Clinical guidance

Their study, published in the British Journal of General Practice, concludes that exercise – either in group sessions, individually or when added to other interventions – is effective in reducing postpartum depressive symptoms.

The authors wrote: 'UK clinical guidance recommends psychological therapy and antidepressants for postnatal depression. However, women can be reluctant to take antidepressants postnatally and the availability of psychological therapies is often limited.

'Given the prevalence of postpartum depression and the potential for exercise to be a low-cost, freely available intervention, aerobic exercise should be considered.'


Pritchett R et al (2017) Does aerobic exercise reduce postpartum depressive symptoms? A systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of General Practice. doi.org/10.3399/bjgp17X692525

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