Health & You: Depression & Swimming

drpool-med-bookHow can swimming in a pool reduce depression? Depression is not simply sadness, or feeling down. Depression is considered an illness that occurs as a result of chemical imbalances in the brain.

Swimming actually can help reduce depression for several reasons, one of which is that it helps stimulate production of brain chemicals that elevate mood and outlook.

1. Depression – What is it? Who is affected?
2. Symptoms of Depression.
3. Swimming and Depression.

bluecrossDepression – What is it? Who is affected?

Depression is not any typical sadness. Sadness is natural for any human being, and everyone will experience sadness throughout their lives. However, depression is a physical illness with more symptoms than just being unhappy.

Depression is an illness caused by chemical imbalance in the brain, but it is treatable. Medications and psychotherapy are just a few treatment options available for those who suffer with depression.

Chemicals in the brain are responsible for the mood control, and when they are out of balance, a person can feel upset even if there is nothing wrong in their life, ranging from emotional guilt or apathy to physical afflictions such as weight loss or weight gain.

bluecrossSymptoms of Depression

Depression symptoms can vary for many people. Some can feel sad or cry regularly, or have a decreased interest or enjoyment in what they used to find pleasurable, including regular daily activities.

Physical symptoms include changes in weight or appearance. Sleep disturbances such as insomnia or oversleeping can also be a symptom of depression. Physically there can also be a change – agitation can show itself, in addition to restlessness or physically slower movements.

Someone who experiences depression often experience guilt, even guilt over something they have no control over. It may be difficult to concentrate or make decisions because of depressive thoughts. Those who experience depression can also have thoughts of death and suicide, regardless of actually having an intent do carry out any such actions.

bluecrossSwimming with Depression

What can swimming in a pool do for someone with depression? Swimming stimulates brain chemicals that promote nerve cell growth. Exercise affects serotonin, which produces ANP.

ANP is a stress-reducing hormone that controls a brain’s response to anxiety and stress. Swimming requires deep-breathing in a pattern, combined with muscle stretching and relaxing. These are elements of many other exercise methods of relaxation, such as yoga.

When mental health is affected by stress, the body will also feel a change as well. Meanwhile if the body feels better, it can make the mind feel better, which is why in cases of depression, stress and anxiety, exercise can be seen as treatment. Exercise and physical activity allows for the production of endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain. Endorphins act as painkillers, with the addition of improving sleep patterns, which ultimately reduces stress.

Some studies indicate that exercise can not only be the solution to stress, but it can also remedy depressive moods in people. Even if only a temporary relief, exercise can still be beneficial. There is evidence that those who are more physically active have less anxiety and depression than others.

It appears that exercise helps the brain cope with stress. In one study, those who rigorously exercised were 25% less likely to have an emergence of depression within the next five years.

While exercise is good for boosting mood, swimming in particular holds some advantages to jogging, such as being easier on the knees, since it involves being weightless in water, thereby eliminating the possibility of wear and tear that comes from running and jogging.

Swimming allows an output of energy, and with energy that is expended, also too the depression is lost in the pool. Whether or not temporary, swimming can allow you to gain control some over depression.

Dr. Pool

Dr. Pool


[1] Schimelpfening, Nancy. “Top 5 Facts You Should Know About Depression.” Depression. 10 Dec. 2011. Web.

[2] Schimelpfening, Nancy. “Top 9 Depression Symptoms.” Depression. 7 Oct. 2012. Web.

[3] Borchard, Therese J. “How Swimming Reduces Depression | World of Psychology.” Psych Web.

[4] “Exercise for Stress and Anxiety.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA. Web.



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