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Old 12-03-2008, 02:19 PM   #1
CarrieP
 
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Using martial arts as depression therapy?

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.
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Old 12-03-2008, 03:19 PM   #2
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: Using martial arts as depression therapy?

Try this:
http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/archiv...hp/t-5575.html

Jennifer Paige Smith
Confluence Aikido Systems
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Old 12-03-2008, 04:16 PM   #3
Janet Rosen
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Re: Using martial arts as depression therapy?

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.

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 12-03-2008, 05:04 PM   #4
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Re: Using martial arts as depression therapy?

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.

I am not an expert
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Old 12-04-2008, 12:52 AM   #5
Stefan Hultberg
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Re: Using martial arts as depression therapy?

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
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Old 12-04-2008, 06:17 AM   #6
srdjan
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Re: Using martial arts as depression therapy?

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
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Old 12-04-2008, 07:09 AM   #7
Marc Abrams
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Re: Using martial arts as depression therapy?

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
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Old 12-04-2008, 07:57 AM   #8
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Re: Using martial arts as depression therapy?

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.
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Old 12-04-2008, 09:03 AM   #9
Amadeus
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Re: Using martial arts as depression therapy?

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.

Love me, hate me, tolerate me or ignore me. I care!
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Old 12-04-2008, 09:17 AM   #10
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Re: Using martial arts as depression therapy?

Quote:
Carolyn Parkinson wrote: View Post
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

Last edited by mathewjgano : 12-04-2008 at 09:22 AM.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 12-04-2008, 09:38 AM   #11
Marie Noelle Fequiere
 
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Re: Using martial arts as depression therapy?

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.
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Old 12-04-2008, 09:56 AM   #12
Marc Abrams
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Re: Using martial arts as depression therapy?

Quote:
Tarjei Amadeus H°ydahl wrote: View Post
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
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Old 12-04-2008, 10:29 AM   #13
Jeremy Hulley
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Re: Using martial arts as depression therapy?

Quote:
Marc Abrams wrote: View Post
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.

Jeremy Hulley
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Tuesday Night Bad Budo Club
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Old 12-04-2008, 11:19 AM   #14
SeiserL
 
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Re: Using martial arts as depression therapy?

IMHO, the martial arts are not a substitute for psychotherapy. It may be a good adjunct, not never a substitution.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 12-04-2008, 11:26 AM   #15
Nick P.
 
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Re: Using martial arts as depression therapy?

As so well stated by others here, I have always maintained that Aikido has therepeutic elements to it, but it is not therapy.

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Old 12-04-2008, 01:14 PM   #16
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Re: Using martial arts as depression therapy?

Quote:
Marie Noelle Fequiere wrote: View Post
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".
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Old 12-04-2008, 02:31 PM   #17
Janet Rosen
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Re: Using martial arts as depression therapy?

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
...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.

Janet Rosen
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Old 12-04-2008, 02:40 PM   #18
Amadeus
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Re: Using martial arts as depression therapy?

On antidepressant effects of running and SSIR

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Old 12-04-2008, 03:24 PM   #19
Stefan Hultberg
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Re: Using martial arts as depression therapy?

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
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Old 12-05-2008, 09:58 AM   #20
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: Using martial arts as depression therapy?

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
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.

Last edited by jennifer paige smith : 12-05-2008 at 10:02 AM.

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Old 12-05-2008, 10:08 AM   #21
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Re: Using martial arts as depression therapy?

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
...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.
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Old 12-05-2008, 10:40 AM   #22
Janet Rosen
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Re: Using martial arts as depression therapy?

Quote:
Marie Noelle Fequiere wrote: View Post
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.

Last edited by Janet Rosen : 12-05-2008 at 10:41 AM. Reason: clarify

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Old 12-05-2008, 10:47 AM   #23
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Re: Using martial arts as depression therapy?

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.
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Old 12-09-2008, 06:23 AM   #24
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Re: Using martial arts as depression therapy?

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.
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Old 12-09-2008, 06:26 AM   #25
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Re: Using martial arts as depression therapy?

Quote:
Jennifer Smith wrote: View Post
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.
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