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A Real World ExampleEdit

At last I will provide you a real world example which illustrates the caveats of doing sports during depression. Some companies here in the Netherlands rely on a sports-intensive routine to put people back to work sooner. In basic terms, the routine involves running every single morning for a period between one hour and one hour and a half. The running is performed under controlled conditions, to prevent the heart rate from ever going over 130 beats per minute. If you understood the role of sports in depression, you will also realise just how this scheme works: it basically gets their brains running on adrenaline. This is not entirely harmless, as during the recovery period the people will have elevated heart rate and stress hormones flowing through their veins. Also, with all that adrenaline in their systems, they will not sleep as much as they could, which makes a full recovery last much longer, up to three years. The advantage of this scheme? Well, they do begin working (part-time of course) much sooner than otherwise.

At this point you might be wondering how they do not realise what is really happening. Remember that adrenaline is an insidious hormone, which makes one feel good even as it revs up the body, and this scheme requires them to exercise every single day without exception. Obviously, the idea is to keep them from crashing down from all that adrenaline, and therefore to prevent them from realising their true status. Also, there is widespread ignorance about depression among Dutch GPs, which makes it all the more unlikely that someone will realise that there is something fishy going on. Personally, I find this scheme to be utterly mad. But then, I am not a Calvinist.

Should you be thinking that this scheme is also a perfectly viable alternative way of curing a depression—one which takes longer, is potentially harmful to the general health, but does allow one to become active sooner rather than later—I would even be tempted to agree with you. However, I still think that the ultimate choice should reside with each individual person. It is their health we are talking about, after all. These people should be properly informed of all possible alternatives and the implications of each one. This is currently not happening.

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