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Our internal antidepressants

Our internal antidepressants

Did you hear about “runner’s high?” or perhaps while at the gym you’ve run into someone with an “endorphin junkie” t-shirt…….

People who regularly workout know the good feeling after a long training, sometimes they describe the feeling as elated, and when they are stressed out they hit the treadmill or have a long run to relieve their anxiety and to turn their day around.

This “exercise high” for the past 40 years has been attributed to endorphins which is a neurochemical substance that is structurally similar to the drug morphine. It is considered a natural painkiller, which can also bring the feeling of well-being.

Recent studies have shown that although after exercise the blood levels of endorphins does increase, it actually does not reach the brain because of something called the blood brain barrier.

So, endorphins aren’t the happy fitness hormone after all. So, is “runners high” a hoax after all? Well actually no…researchers have recently found that the level of a neurotransmitter called anandamide increases after exercise and it can reach the brain ( it crosses the blood brain barrier).

This neurotransmitter has the same effect as antidepressants, it is a natural defense mechanism of the body against stress .

This neurotransmitter is now known to be the cause of the feeling of well being after exercise.

So, probably in the near future we’re going to hear more about “anandamide junkies” quite a mouthful!!! …

One of the major drawbacks of living in this digital age is that our physical activity has greatly decreased. The balance of neurochemicals is being altered by our modern way of living, making us more prone to depression and anxiety .

A recent study has shown that the incidence of depression among adolescents and young adults has jumped from 8.7% in 2005 to 11.5% in 2014. That’s a 37 percent increase! .

Pharmaceutical companies are helping us the easy way by providing drugs such as antidepressants, while exercise is the best natural ant-stress therapy out there. So don’t blame an athlete who is so keen on exercising regularly and try to be more active yourself , believe me you won’t regret it. Even if you wear an “endorphin junkie” t-shirt you won’t be judged!

It is as if you are training yourself to respond to stress and gradually you will be more capable of dealing with stressful situations. No matter how the mechanism, “exercise high” is the cheapest and most valuable antidepressant.

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