In a new study from the Albacete Zone VIII Health Center in Spain, researchers found that antidepressants may be more effective than exercise for seniors with depression.
They assigned 347 patients (65 years or older) with severe depression to either a supervised physical exercise program or an antidepressant treatment by their general practitioners.
The researchers found that the improvement in depression in the physical activity group after one month was not much different from that in the antidepressant treatment group.
However, at the end of three and six months, respectively, the proportion of those who showed improvement was much greater in the antidepressant group (60.6% versus 49.7%) when compared with the physical activity group (45.6% versus 32.9%).
The number of patients withdrawing was greater in the physical activity group, but the proportion of participants with adverse side effects was greater in the antidepressant group.
The team says although the improvement was initially similar in both treatment groups, antidepressant treatment was superior in the medium term, despite giving rise to a greater number of adverse effects.
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The study is published in the Annals of Family Medicine. One author of the study is Jesús López-Torres Hidalgo, M.D.
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