According to a 2016 article from researchers at UCLA, physical exercise can be used to help combat mental illness.
Antipsychotic drugs can help individuals deal with impairing symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations, but studies have shown that these drugs do little to reverse the brain and personality changes that schizophrenia can cause.
Some of these changes include poor memory, lowered ability to process information, difficulty paying attention, trouble solving problems, and low emotional intelligence rates are some of the symptoms of schizophrenia that usually cannot be helped with medication. These symptoms can hinder individuals from getting an education, holding a job, or maintaining stable relationships with loved ones.
The study done by UCLA suggests that pairing physical activity with challenging “brain games” can help combat these debilitating symptoms.
One-quarter to one-third of these particular ill effects of schizophrenia were found by the study to be reversed when patients engage in both “computer-based brain games” and aerobic exercise. These results are typically more noticeable when the exercises are implemented early in the treatment process soon after the disorder emerges.
The brain games on their own were not effective. “Over the course of the study,” says the article, “the cognitive performance of study participants who only completed brain training did not budge. But those who participated in physical exercise improved significantly.”
Keith Nuechterlein, who oversaw the study and works as a professor at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, said that he hopes this study, along with early detection and treatment, can help decrease the effects of schizophrenia.
“Our hope is to prevent the chronic disability that is so common in schizophrenia from ever occurring, and to return individuals with schizophrenia to regular employment, regular schooling, and normal friendship patterns, and to have them resume as much of a full life as possible,” Nuechterlein said. “This kind of computer training and exercise — in combination with antipsychotic medication — might go a long way toward doing that.”
For more information about how to take back control of your mental health, reach out to us. We want to help you and your loved ones in the fight against mental illness.