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Physical Activity in the Treatment and Prevention of Depression in Adolescents

Shepard, Shandra
Trefren, Kristen
Background: Depression in adolescents is a major public health concern with approximately 11% of adolescents being diagnosed with depression before the age of 18. Depression can have a significant impact on the quality of life for adolescents in terms of comorbidities, complications, and somatic manifestations. Treatment of depression in adolescents can be expensive and adherence can be poor. Physical activity is a low cost, low side effect option for patients and parents looking for alternative treatment options, thus the purpose of this integrative literature review was to identify the role physical activity plays in the treatment and prevention of depression to prevent more cases of depression and associated adverse effects. Methods: Journal articles, original research, and reviews from the last 10 years came from in-depth searches from the following data bases: PUBMED, CINHAL, PychInfo, Cochrane, and EBSCOHOST. Results: A total of 68 publications were initially identified and 13 studies met the inclusion criteria. The studies demonstrated an inverse relationship between physical activity and depression in adolescents. However, the significance of the relationship varied depending on confounding factors. Thus the exact role of physical activity remains unknown. Conclusion: Few randomized control studies have been completed on the effects of physical activity and the treatment and prevention of depression in adolescents. The studies indicate that physical activity can help in the treatment of depression and with overall psychological and social health. Randomized control studies are needed to help determine the role physical activity and/or sports participation has in adolescent depression.
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