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How Do Feelings Affect Your Physical Fitness?

Aug 17, 2007
Everyone gets into a funk now and then. Perhaps you are feeling stressed out, or you are disappointed at recent events. You may even feel a bit blue because of your hormones or body chemistry. Usually, these feelings do not last for very long before you are feeling positive again.

But for some people, it is harder to pull out of a blue mood. They may experience these feelings more frequently, and over longer periods of time. When this happens, these blue moods are not only uncomfortable, they can affect your health.

Bad news about bad moods

A number of studies have linked depression and bad moods with an increased risk of heart disease. In addition, people who are depressed are four times more likely to suffer from fatigue. Physical pain, such as headaches, back pain, and abdominal pain, is also a common symptom of depression.

According to a study at Kansas State University, you are more likely to become sick if you hold a negative mood for a longer period of time. Extroverted people tend to be more positive and can shake a bad mood more quickly, making them less likely to become ill.

In fact, an optimistic outlook helps to boost your immune system. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that an optimistic mindset helps people to weather stressful events, such as surgery or illness. Conversely, people with a more pessimistic attitude tend to have a reduced immune response to the stressful situation.

Is it just a bad mood?

If you do find yourself in a bad mood frequently or for a long period of time, it is possible you may be depressed. What's the difference between depression and a passing blue mood? A depression involves your thoughts, mood, and body. It affects every aspect of your life, including the way you eat or sleep, how you see the world, and how you feel about yourself. A clinical depression of this nature can make you feel powerless and immobilized.

Depression may include some of the following symptoms:

1. Persistent sadness and anxiety
2. Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
3. Loss of interest in activities that were previously enjoyed
4. Feelings of fatigue and loss of energy
5. Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
6. Insomnia, waking in the early morning, or oversleeping
7. Loss of appetite or weight gain due to overeating
8. Contemplated or attempted suicide
9. Restlessness or irritability
10. Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain.

If you or someone you know is suffering from a depressive disorder, it's important to get treatment. A clinically depressed person cannot simply "get over it." They need help.

Managing moods and treating depression

If you or a loved one is depressed, the first step is to schedule an examination with a physician so they can rule out any physical causes. They can refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist if necessary. There are also numerous support groups that can help you on your path to recovery.

Whether you are suffering from a temporary blue mood or you are depressed, try the following methods to improve your outlook:

1. Exercise - A recent study at UT Southwestern Medical Center shows that even low-intensity exercise several days a week can reduce symptoms in cases of mild to moderate depression. A moderately intense aerobic program reduces the symptoms by an average of 47 percent after 12 weeks.
2. Eat a balanced, healthy diet - It is always important to support your body nutritionally.
3. Meditate - In recent years, several clinical trials have shown that meditation is an effective way to manage and reduce stress. Meditation can take many forms, but the primary goal is to relax and focus your attention.

Remember, if you are depressed, these methods are not a substitute for proper care. Seek help if you think you are depressed.
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