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CarrieP
12-03-2008, 02:19 PM
Hi all,

I am looking for any posts about using martial arts as therapy, at least in part, for depression.

I tried searching the archives but it was not terribly effective.

If there's not such a post, consider this the start of one.

Quick context: A good friend is suffering and I know the friend has done martial arts before. I'm arming myself with as much info as possible that I can present to said friend to help them.

jennifer paige smith
12-03-2008, 03:19 PM
Try this:
http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-5575.html

Janet Rosen
12-03-2008, 04:16 PM
I think its therapeutic in the sense that
1. many folks find that physical exercise helps
2. if its part of your life, keeping as much of your "usual routine" as you can is valuable even if it doesn't feel like it at the time, because that way when you do care again, your life still exists.

But a dojo is not a therapeutic milieu.

Voitokas
12-03-2008, 05:04 PM
There's a lot of literature on regular physical activity and depression - you can find it on PubMed or Scholar.google.com. I guess a martial art is better than most exercise because practises are regular and not self-initiated. It also helps to have other people go with you, whether it's a regular thrice-weekly date for racquetball or a dojo buddy or whatever. And friends are always a help! I hope your friend is doing better soon.

Stefan Hultberg
12-04-2008, 12:52 AM
Hi

A very important thought! I believe aikido is brilliant as depression therapy. For starters there is the physical exercise which is proven beyond any doubt as one of the most fundamental aspects for mental health. There is also the social aspect, and I find an aikido dojo to be a very therapeutic environment, helping eachother, joking and laughing, sweating together, having a coke together after trainig - it's beautiful. In aikido there is also the spiritual aspect and a focus on the concept of love. On a more esoteric note, I suppose, aligning oneself with the movement of the universe - as described by O-sensei - gotta be a good thing if you're depressed.

I think your friend will benefit greatly from aikido training and he/she is lucky to have your friendship and your commitment to help.

All the best

Stefan

srdjan
12-04-2008, 06:17 AM
Hi Carolyn,
just focus yourself on Aikido techniques and remove bad mind.
I was read lot of books from Sensei Morihei Ueshiba and I was descover quiet mind!!!!
Srdjan

Marc Abrams
12-04-2008, 07:09 AM
Suggesting that martial arts can be a form of therapy for depression is a risky and potentially irresponsible position to take.

When you talk about "depression" you can be talking about many different things. A person can have an appropriate, depressive episode that is related to some event(s) in one person's life. Depression can be a re-occurring, biological condition. Depression can be part of a more severe and disruptive psychiatric disorder.

1) If someone believes that he/she is depressed, then that person should get a thorough evaluation by a mental health care provider. A person should explore a variety of treatment options available with a mental health care provider. Second opinions can always be gotten if a person is not satisfied with the suggestions of one health care provider.

2) A dojo is NOT a mental health treatment center and should never be treated as such. Exercise has been substantiated as an important component in helping one's body to develop and maintain levels of neuro-chemicals that lead to feelings of well-being. It has been substantiated to be an important factor in helping people to come out of a depression. THERE ARE NO GOOD SCIENTIFIC STUDIES DOCUMENTING MARTIAL ARTS TRAINING IN HELPING PEOPLE WITH DEPRESSIONS! MARTIAL ARTS TRAINING IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR EFFECTIVE TREATMENT FOR DIFFERENT TYPES OF DEPRESSIONS!

Martial arts training, as part of a healthy lifestyle, can be helpful in many different arenas. To go the next step and say that it is a form of therapy is potentially dangerous for all involved. This position is similar to people who look to send children with attention-deficit, hyperactivity disorders to martial arts schools in order to treat their attention problems! Just because something can be helpful does not equate with being an effective form of treatment.

Marc Abrams

ps.- I am also a licensed psychologist

lbb
12-04-2008, 07:57 AM
I'm glad Marc chimed in; he basically wrote what I was thinking, without the education and experience to back it up. I think an analogy would be food vs. antibiotics for a person with an infection. The food does not fight the infection; instead, it helps to support the body's functioning...and with some infections, that's good enough, because with proper support, they can defeat an infection on their own. But food is not a treatment for infection, and some infections can't be cured just by supporting the body.

Likewise, aikido could, in some cases, help your life in ways that would in turn help you to overcome (or live with) some kinds of depression. It could also be completely inadequate or even counterproductive. I wouldn't make the "Hey, it can't hurt and it will probably help" assumption, either -- good things don't always come out of martial arts training.

Amadeus
12-04-2008, 09:03 AM
Any form for physical exercise is good depression therapy. It get the brains reward systems up and running again.

But it ain't no miracle cure, would also go for some head-fixup to get the problems taken care of as well. But physical exercise will still make it alot easier to get healthy again.

mathewjgano
12-04-2008, 09:17 AM
Hi all,

I am looking for any posts about using martial arts as therapy, at least in part, for depression.

I tried searching the archives but it was not terribly effective.

If there's not such a post, consider this the start of one.

Quick context: A good friend is suffering and I know the friend has done martial arts before. I'm arming myself with as much info as possible that I can present to said friend to help them.

Hi Carolyn,
I'm glad Marc gave some of his expertize and I think he makes an important point. I can see how activities which might typically be healthy and beneficial, might not be for everyone...particularly when you're talking about something like depression, which in my inexpert opinion is as much a point of view as it is a state of mind. Addressing that point of view, the internal dialogue which continually reiterates how things are bad, cannot be accomplished simply by moving the body around. That said, physical activity has always been one of the healthiest things for me in my battle with depression. It may or may not help your friend. And I know that when people gave me advice on how to fight my depression, it usually didn't help much...largely in part because I didn't feel like most people really understood what I was going through. Again, this is me and my response to things, and personalities (and thus the manner of their receptibility) do vary. I'm admittedly stubborn and ideas which were put to me in even a mildly confrontational manner were usually negated.
Take care,
Matt

Marie Noelle Fequiere
12-04-2008, 09:38 AM
Another important factor is the instructor. Sensei needs to know about the student's condition, and be both capable of and willing to deal with it. Depression, either chronic or not can hamper a student's performances, mainly by compromising his or her self confidence. Such a student needs more patience, and constant encouragement. Sometimes, it can even be exhausting, and cause the instructor to slow the pace of the class. But with a good, supportive Sensei, it can be very beneficial.

Marc Abrams
12-04-2008, 09:56 AM
Any form for physical exercise is good depression therapy. It get the brains reward systems up and running again.

But it ain't no miracle cure, would also go for some head-fixup to get the problems taken care of as well. But physical exercise will still make it alot easier to get healthy again.

Tarjei:

Your first sentence is simply overgeneralized, inaccurate and potentially dangerous if someone chooses to enact that. EXERCISE AND THERAPY ARE DIFFERENT! Some types of exercise can be important components in a treatment regime to address some types of depression. That is a more accurate statement that may be helpful to others.

Marc Abrams

Jeremy Hulley
12-04-2008, 10:29 AM
2) A dojo is NOT a mental health treatment center and should never be treated as such. Exercise has been substantiated as an important component in helping one's body to develop and maintain levels of neuro-chemicals that lead to feelings of well-being. It has been substantiated to be an important factor in helping people to come out of a depression. THERE ARE NO GOOD SCIENTIFIC STUDIES DOCUMENTING MARTIAL ARTS TRAINING IN HELPING PEOPLE WITH DEPRESSIONS! MARTIAL ARTS TRAINING IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR EFFECTIVE TREATMENT FOR DIFFERENT TYPES OF DEPRESSIONS!

Martial arts training, as part of a healthy lifestyle, can be helpful in many different arenas. To go the next step and say that it is a form of therapy is potentially dangerous for all involved. This position is similar to people who look to send children with attention-deficit, hyperactivity disorders to martial arts schools in order to treat their attention problems! Just because something can be helpful does not equate with being an effective form of treatment.

Marc Abrams

ps.- I am also a licensed psychologist

Thanks for that Marc.

SeiserL
12-04-2008, 11:19 AM
IMHO, the martial arts are not a substitute for psychotherapy. It may be a good adjunct, not never a substitution.

Nick P.
12-04-2008, 11:26 AM
As so well stated by others here, I have always maintained that Aikido has therepeutic elements to it, but it is not therapy.

lbb
12-04-2008, 01:14 PM
Another important factor is the instructor. Sensei needs to know about the student's condition, and be both capable of and willing to deal with it.

...and that's where you run into trouble. Your sensei is probably not a psychotherapist, and he/she is really unlikely to be your psychotherapist, so clearly there would have to be some pretty severe limits on the "dealing with".

Janet Rosen
12-04-2008, 02:31 PM
...and that's where you run into trouble. Your sensei is probably not a psychotherapist, and he/she is really unlikely to be your psychotherapist, so clearly there would have to be some pretty severe limits on the "dealing with".

Yep. That's why I say there can be benefits to doing aikido but a dojo is not a therapeutic milieu.

Amadeus
12-04-2008, 02:40 PM
On antidepressant effects of running and SSIR (http://diss.kib.ki.se/2007/978-91-7357-246-0/)

Stefan Hultberg
12-04-2008, 03:24 PM
Hi

I don't think there is any depression therapy (treatment) that should stand alone. Yes, there may be need for antidepressants, cognitive behavioral therapy, even electroconvulsive treatment.

I believe physical exercise, like good eating & sleeping habits, is beneficial for depressive people, not as an exclusive therapy but as a beneficial activity, in general and in relation to depression.

And, yes, if the sensei is very insensitive, if the dojo is very competitive, if there is an aggressive athmosphere then I would not think aikido training would be very good. I don't think psychotherapy with a bad psychologist would be very good either. Antidepressants can be good, they can also have horrendous side and withdrawal effects.

Horses for courses, people and specific diagnoses are very variable. For many people aikido, I believe, would be beneficial as a a part of a multispectered approach towards recovery. It probably is not right for everybody.

All the best

Stefan

jennifer paige smith
12-05-2008, 09:58 AM
IMHO, the martial arts are not a substitute for psychotherapy. It may be a good adjunct, not never a substitution.

Conversely, psychotherapy is not a good substitute for training.

And, to address Janet's assertion above, I concur, a dojo is definitely not a therapeutic milieu. It is training for whatever good it brings to whatever person is training through the pure structure of aikido. Not Therapy, yet sometimes therapeutic. If you get my drift.

Marie Noelle Fequiere
12-05-2008, 10:08 AM
...and that's where you run into trouble. Your sensei is probably not a psychotherapist, and he/she is really unlikely to be your psychotherapist, so clearly there would have to be some pretty severe limits on the "dealing with".

I'm sorry I did not make myself clear enough. I just started my posting with: Another important factor". The first important factor I had in mind was, well, what Mark said: No activity can replace therapy with a qualified person. But it can help, it can add something to it that can only be beneficial if the rest of the dojo, starting with the instructor, is ready to cooperate.

Janet Rosen
12-05-2008, 10:40 AM
But it can help, it can add something to it that can only be beneficial if the rest of the dojo, starting with the instructor, is ready to cooperate.

I have to disagree. Whatever benefit anybody gets for their internal issues is going to have to come from the physical training; to expect from or try to elicit from the dojo community explicit therapeutic support or intervention beyond normal amiability, respect, and concern is beyond the training of most instructors.

Unless you mean something as general as "I'm having a rough time and might have to sit down and cry during class, or leave early." But to go into the reasons and issues is not appropriate, IMO.

Marie Noelle Fequiere
12-05-2008, 10:47 AM
Ok, just let me say that the reason I have this opinion is something that I witnessed years ago. I thought of telling the whole story, but I changed my mind because it's long, and it did not happen in a dojo. Let me just say that I saw a teacher and some fifteen teenage students do their best to bring a moment of pride and joy in the life of a severely depressed child. It did not cure her problems, but she did have this moment of joy because others chose to care.
I rest my case.

CarrieP
12-09-2008, 06:23 AM
Thank you all for the thoughtful and varied responses and the archived thread.

I feel I should explain a little bit more. I wrote my original post literally running out the door to go visit this friend, and was looking for as much information as possible to help the person. Thus, my original post was somewhat rushed.

I agree that physical exercise cannot substitute for therapy, especially when a person's problems are severe. I didn't mean to phrase my question to indicate that I thought martial arts was equivalent to psychotherapy or treatment with drugs. If someone is serously ill, this can be a dangerous premise.

However, as one element of a multi-faceted approach, I think it can be beneficial.

My friend is a very self-reliant type, and has aversions to therapy for very legitimate reasons. My initial, and continued, approach is to try to convince my friend that therapy is the best option, and necessary.

Of course, this is me as armchair psychologist speaking, and not a qualified professional. But I think I've got a fair enough grasp on the basics of psychology and the psyche of my friend to know that my friend needs more help than me or any layperson can give right now.

Ultimately I cannot make my friend do anything, which as any of you know who have friends who have had self-destructive behaviors of any sort, is frustrating as hell.

However, in my mind, the more information I arm myself with, and the more varied it is, the better chance I have of helping my friend.

The post was written in that spirit.

I appreciate everyone's concern and sensitivity towards the situation. This is a good group of people here.

CarrieP
12-09-2008, 06:26 AM
Conversely, psychotherapy is not a good substitute for training.

And, to address Janet's assertion above, I concur, a dojo is definitely not a therapeutic milieu. It is training for whatever good it brings to whatever person is training through the pure structure of aikido. Not Therapy, yet sometimes therapeutic. If you get my drift.

Like meditation can sometimes bring the benefits of relaxation and lowered stress levels and blood pressure, but it should be done for its own sake, not for its purported health benefits.

Amadeus
12-11-2008, 08:25 AM
My friend is a very self-reliant type, and has aversions to therapy for very legitimate reasons. My initial, and continued, approach is to try to convince my friend that therapy is the best option, and necessary.

Hi Carrie.
Some depressions can have it's up and downs. At the downs the individual can be to passivisated by the disease to take the action needed to get help. At the ups the person might belive she don't need help because she's getting better. Getting professional help ain't as easy as it can seem for someone who's never been there.

A depression can be hard to explain, so the idea of explaining the condition to a professional can be frightening enough. Maybe bringing a friend or a family member for moral support could help?

Another problem can be accepting the disease. By talking to a professional you admit there is something wrong, and there is no way back: you are depressed. Can't just "shake it off" anymore, some dude who know everything just said you got a mental disorder. You are nuts ect. The stigma should not go unnoticed.

I'm way off topic...

jennifer paige smith
12-11-2008, 06:43 PM
Like meditation can sometimes bring the benefits of relaxation and lowered stress levels and blood pressure, but it should be done for its own sake, not for its purported health benefits.

exac-a-tack-ly;)

Stefan Hultberg
12-13-2008, 03:57 AM
Hi

"Like meditation can sometimes bring the benefits of relaxation and lowered stress levels and blood pressure, but it should be done for its own sake, not for its purported health benefits."

Why shouldn't it? I agree that meditation (for example) is a wonderful activity and should often be carried out "for its own sake", but why shouldn't one do it for the (purported) health benefits?? I enjoy aikido and I think I practice it "for its own sake", but I'm pretty happy about its physical and mental health benefits too!! Why shouldn't I be?

All the best

Stefan Hultberg

aikishrine
12-13-2008, 05:29 PM
Hi,

I suffer from a severe Bi-polar disorder.
I take medication, plus i see both a psychiatrist and a psychologist
for psychotherapy. Both are helpful. However i get a lot out of my Aikido training that also helps me emotionaly. That being said it is very hard to get myself to the dojo at times, and when i do go it is sometimes very hard to get on the mat, but when i do get on the mat my spirits are lifted beyond compare, but that is a personal thing and should in know way be a diagnosis for someone else. Nor should anyone try to diagnose training as a cureall because it isnt right for eveyone and can actualy add to the frustration of your psyche, i have experienced this as well when people say just get on the mat and all will be better, but i will leave you with this "give it a try. because it cant hurt"

just my two cents

jennifer paige smith
12-14-2008, 09:26 AM
Hi

"Like meditation can sometimes bring the benefits of relaxation and lowered stress levels and blood pressure, but it should be done for its own sake, not for its purported health benefits."

Why shouldn't it? I agree that meditation (for example) is a wonderful activity and should often be carried out "for its own sake", but why shouldn't one do it for the (purported) health benefits?? I enjoy aikido and I think I practice it "for its own sake", but I'm pretty happy about its physical and mental health benefits too!! Why shouldn't I be?

All the best

Stefan Hultberg

I believe the idea here is that if one decides what something is about, or for , before even beginning the practice you'll miss out on what the practice has to offer independently. It will simply be a projection of self and not an entity unto its own.
Enjoying the by-products of practice is awesome. Deciding what they'll be before you start is something else.

Stefan Hultberg
12-14-2008, 10:35 AM
I believe the idea here is that if one decides what something is about, or for , before even beginning the practice you'll miss out on what the practice has to offer independently. It will simply be a projection of self and not an entity unto its own.
Enjoying the by-products of practice is awesome. Deciding what they'll be before you start is something else.

Hi

Amen, expectations & preconceived ideas bind reality rather than letting reality flow more freely into something that can be more wondrous than anything one's expectations can imagine.

I do enjoy the by-products though, especially the stretching of my stiff old arms!!

Stefan Hultberg

GeneC
12-14-2008, 11:12 AM
What difference does it make why a person comes to a practice. Isn't possible that they discover the "purpose" (by who's decree?) on they way?

I came to Aikido in a "round about way" ( from the hospital for heart attack, my cardiologist told me I either learn to calm down or start making funeral arrangements), so the day I was released I went and joined a T'ai Ch'i class and an Aikido class, as both demand relaxation and calmness in order to be effective. So tell me, what IS the purpose of Aikido? IS it a sin that I didn't come to Aikido to become one with Osensei's spirit and discover the secrets of the Universe? Maybe I'll evolve to that later(and maybe not). What difference does it make?

GeneC
12-14-2008, 11:22 AM
Hi

Amen, expectations & preconceived ideas bind reality rather than letting reality flow more freely into something that can be more wondrous than anything one's expectations can imagine.

I do enjoy the by-products though, especially the stretching of my stiff old arms!!

Stefan Hultberg

No offense, but I think this attitude sells new folks short, implying that it's not possible for them to open up to other ideas from fellow students, the Sensei, Sempai and just being there and discovering Budo, et al, along the way..

Sy Labthavikul
12-14-2008, 12:57 PM
Hi

Amen, expectations & preconceived ideas bind reality rather than letting reality flow more freely into something that can be more wondrous than anything one's expectations can imagine.



Isn't this a preconceived idea itself? ;)

jennifer paige smith
12-14-2008, 01:22 PM
No offense, but I think this attitude sells new folks short, implying that it's not possible for them to open up to other ideas from fellow students, the Sensei, Sempai and just being there and discovering Budo, et al, along the way..

I don't see a contradiction. In fact, that was exactly my experience.

Stefan Hultberg
12-15-2008, 11:30 AM
No offense, but I think this attitude sells new folks short, implying that it's not possible for them to open up to other ideas from fellow students, the Sensei, Sempai and just being there and discovering Budo, et al, along the way..

Hi

Well, I find it difficult to know clearly what exactly my attitude is toward many things. Know this, though - I agree with you completely in that one should "open up to other ideas from fellow students, the Sensei, Sempai and just being there and discovering Budo, et al, along the way" and I believe most people actually do this.

Many regards

Stefan Hultberg