Running vs. Antidepressants: Exploring the Benefits Running for Mental Health
Running for Mental Health

How does running compare to antidepressants?

In today’s fast-paced world, mental health concerns have become increasingly prevalent. People are constantly seeking effective ways to manage their emotional well-being and find relief from conditions like depression and anxiety. While traditional treatments such as antidepressant medications have long been relied upon, there is growing interest in exploring alternative approaches, such as engaging in regular physical activity like running. In this article, we delve into the intriguing realm of running as a potential natural remedy for mental health issues, and how it compares to antidepressant medications.


The Impact of Running on Mental Health

One study highlighted in the research article examines the effects of running on mental health and investigates its potential as an alternative to antidepressant medications [1]. The researchers conducted a comprehensive analysis of numerous scientific studies, aiming to shed light on the benefits of running for mental well-being.


Running: A Natural Antidepressant

Engaging in regular running offers numerous benefits for mental health. Let’s explore some of the ways running can positively impact your emotional well-being:

  1. Release of Endorphins: Running triggers the release of endorphins, commonly known as “feel-good” hormones, which can boost mood and alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  2. Stress Reduction: Engaging in regular running can significantly reduce stress levels, promoting relaxation and improving overall mental well-being.
  3. Increased Serotonin Levels: Running has been shown to increase serotonin levels in the brain, a neurotransmitter associated with mood regulation. This rise in serotonin can have a positive impact on mental health.

Comparing Running and Antidepressant Medications

When considering treatment options for mental health, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of running compared to antidepressant medications. Let’s explore some key factors:

  1. Side Effects: Unlike certain antidepressant medications, running typically does not cause significant side effects. However, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any exercise program, especially if you have pre-existing medical conditions.
  2. Cost: Running is a cost-effective activity compared to long-term use of antidepressant medications, which can be expensive, particularly when considering insurance coverage and ongoing prescriptions.
  3. Personal Empowerment: Engaging in physical activity like running empowers individuals by providing a sense of control over their mental health journey. It fosters self-confidence and a proactive approach towards well-being.


While antidepressant medications have their place in mental health treatment, it is crucial to explore alternative options that can complement or even replace them. Running offers a natural and empowering approach to improving mental health, with benefits such as endorphin release, stress reduction, and increased serotonin levels. By considering running as a viable option, individuals can take charge of their mental well-being and embark on a transformative journey toward optimal mental health.

Remember, always consult with a healthcare professional before making any changes to your treatment plan. Start your natural running journey today and experience the uplifting power it can have on your mental well-being.

And, if you’re in the Augusta Area and want some help with running, pain, and living an active, healthy, life, book an appointment online now!



[1] Verhoeven, J. E., Han, L. K. M., Lever-van Milligen, B. A., Hu, M. X., Révész, D., Hoogendoorn, A. W., Batelaan, N. M., van Schaik, D. J. F., van Balkom, A. J. L. M., van Oppen, P., & Penninx, B. W. J. H. (2023). Antidepressants or running therapy: Comparing effects on mental and physical health in patients with depression and anxiety disorders. Journal of Affective Disorders, 329, 19–29. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2023.02.064

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Rafi Salazar OT

Rafael E. Salazar II, MHS, OTR/L (Rafi) is the CEO & President of Proactive Rehabilitation & Wellness, as well as the Principal Owner of Rehab U Practice Solutions and the host of The Better Outcomes Show. Rafi’s career trajectory includes 10+ years of experience in healthcare management, clinical operations, programmatic development, marketing & business development. He even spent some time as an Assistant Professor in a Graduate Program of Occupational Therapy and has served on numerous boards and regulatory committees. Today, Rafi helps innovative healthcare companies humanize healthcare through his consulting workHe also leverages his experience as a professor and academic to speak and train on the topics around humanizing the healthcare experience.

Rafi also authored the book Better Outcomes: A Guide to Humanizing Healthcare