Around four million people in Germany suffer from depression. Sports clubs should now stand by those affected in the fight against their disease.

Psychiatrists and sports scientists have developed a special training program for people with depression. The effectiveness of the offer designed for sports clubs is now being tested in a study. Movement helps with depression, but there are far too few specific sports and movement therapies, said Prof. Marc Ziegenbein, deputy director of the MHH clinic for psychiatry, social psychiatry and psychotherapy in Hanover on Friday.

According to the researchers’ ideas, the “Active out of the mood” program should become just as natural in clubs as, for example, back exercises or courses for heart patients. A moderate endurance training was developed that can be continued after the course. “The program includes, for example, walking, light running training and playful exercises,” said sports scientist Olaf Hoos from the University of Marburg. Researchers from the University of Würzburg are also involved.

Depression is also a physical illness

A total of 50 patients are taking part in the study, they meet three times a week for 45 to 60 minute training sessions. The goals are to reduce depressive symptoms, improve body awareness and improve self-confidence. It should also be achieved that those affected come back to people. The patients are divided into two groups, one of which starts later. The Würzburg riot police provide a control group with healthy people who are also completing the program.

An estimated four million people in Germany suffer from depression. “It’s a really good idea to get the sports clubs on board,” said Prof. Frank Schneider, head of the sports psychiatry department of the German Society for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Neurology, about the project.

In psychiatric clinics, physiotherapy is an important part of every treatment, but in the outpatient area there is a lack of special exercise offers for the mentally ill, said the director of the clinic for psychiatry, psychotherapy and psychosomatics at the University Hospital Aachen. “With regular club training there is a very quick risk of being overwhelmed.” Depression is not only a nervous but also serious physical illness. “Even if the disease seems to have subsided, it is still in the bones many months later.”

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