Evidence-based recommendations for the prescription of exercise for major depressive disorder

J Psychiatr Pract. 2013 May;19(3):204-12. doi: 10.1097/01.pra.0000430504.16952.3e.


Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a source of great disease burden, due in part to the limited accessibility and effectiveness of current treatments. Although current treatments are efficacious in a segment of the population with MDD, there is a clear need for alternative and augmentation treatment strategies. Exercise is one such alternative treatment option. Research has shown exercise to be efficacious as both a stand-alone and an augmentation therapy. As a result, exercise is now included in the American Psychiatric Association's treatment recommendations. The purpose of this article is to provide clinicians with a knowledge base to prescribe exercise to their patients. The authors describe the evidence supporting the use of exercise in the treatment of MDD, provide evidence-based recommendations for prescribing exercise, and address practical considerations related to prescribing exercise in real-world treatment settings.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Exercise* / psychology
  • Humans
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data
  • Prescriptions*
  • Psychometrics
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Resistance Training
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antidepressive Agents