Physical Exercise Impact on Cognitive Functions for Patients with Depressive Disorder


Lithuanian Sports University and Kėdainiai Primary Mental Health Care Center, Applied, Biology and Rehabilitation, Lithuania


Cognitive impairment is frequently observed in patients suffering from depression and is associated with poor response to treatment (Potter et al. 2004; Story et al. 2008; Roiser et al. 2012). Impaired cognition has been estimated to occur in around two-thirds of depressed patients (Abas et al. 1990; Butters et al. 2004; Afridi et al. 2011). Although certain symptoms of psychiatric disorders — such as depression, delusions and anxiety — are alleviated by current drugs, cognitive deficits are not usually improved, and may even be worsened (Millan, 2006; Hill et al., 2010). Strength and aerobic training could influence depressive symptoms through different biological mechanisms, such as enhanced serotonergic activity, neurotropic factors, or endorphin levels. (Ernst, 2006).

The aim of the research was to evaluate the cognitive functions before and after the physical exercises for patients with depressive disorder. The survey involved randomly selected subjects (n=31) with diagnosed depressive disorder, aged 26 – 86. Participants had physical exercises three times a week for three weeks. The subjects were assessed using physical activity questionnaire, geriatric depression scale and ANAM4 (Automated Neuropsychological Assessment Metrics) program before and after the research. The survey results showed, that there were statistically significant lower reaction time of cognitive function tests (simple reaction time, two choice reaction time, mathematical processing and go/no go) after physical exercises for patients with depressive disorder (p< 0,05). Age was statistically significantly related to worsening of reaction time of cognitive tests’ results (p<0.05). There were found statistically significant differences between younger and older participants. Participants of 55 years of age and younger showed better results after physical exercises (p<0.05).

In conclusion: physical exercises can improve cognitive functions for patients with depressive disorder.