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Treatment Breakthrough: Depression Is a Whole Body Disorder

Treatment Breakthrough: Depression Is a Whole Body Disorder

When Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders walked away from a $44 million contract (with a substantial buyout) in 2015, he knew it was time to face -- and get treatment for -- his chronic depression. This super athlete found his depression was making his mind AND body increasingly less court-ready. He told reporters: “I'm trying to get to the root of a lot of issues...Without getting them corrected, I don't think basketball is something I could do.”

Well, for the first time research confirms what Sanders felt instinctively: Depression in more than a mental disorder. It raises body-wide levels of oxidative stress and that affects all systems and organs. Writing in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, researchers from the University of Granada suggest this may explain why folks who suffer from depression are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer and die at an earlier age than folks without depression.

Clearly, this discovery changes how depression should be treated. Talk therapy and antidepressants do help reduce symptoms and, according to the research, restore body levels of anti-inflammatory substances such as zinc and uric acid and reduce markers of oxidative stress. But you need to treat the body, not just the mind. That means adopting an anti-inflammatory lifestyle: At least 30 minutes (we like 60) of aerobic exercise five days a week, plus eliminating inflammation-boosting trans and sat fats, processed grains and added sugars and syrups from your diet. That full court press may just stop depression from benching you!

Medically reviewed in September 2018.

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