Depression depression is a common and serious mood disorder,

Depression overtakes
life of so many, and interferes with various aspects of everyday functioning.
According to the World
Health Organization, more than 300 million people live with depression, but
nearly half of them aren’t getting the help they need (WHO, 2012). Leaving
depression untreated can lead to many complications in one’s personal and
professional life, so it is essential to seek treatment.

To define, clinical
depression is a common and serious mood disorder, that causes severe symptoms
affecting how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping,
eating or working. According to the DSM-5, depression is present when you have five or more of
these symptoms for at least two weeks: depressed mood during most of the day; decreased interest or pleasure in activities
once enjoyed; change in weight or appetite; trouble
sleeping or sleeping too much; loss of energy; restlessness or slowing down;
feelings of worthlessness or guilt; diminished ability to think, decide and
concentrate; thoughts of death or suicide (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Depression
comes in different intensities based on how disabling the symptoms are, and how
much they interfere with daily functioning, but in all forms it is considered
as mental illness.

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Lots of
things influence whether a person gets depressed. Biology, our environment and
personality all shape the risks. Depression on average, first strikes during
the late teens to mid-twenties. Young adults say goodbye to their childhood and
teenage years, and they try to build their own path while dealing with changes
and uncertainties, which could trigger feelings of sadness and irritability
(Nierenberg, 2016). Also women are twice as likely to suffer from depression compared to men (Kessler, 2003); but women are more likely to seek traditional psychiatric treatments for depression (Addis & Mahalik, 2003).

            Since depression is a curable mental
illness, with a wide variety of treatments, asking for help should be encouraged.
Psychotherapy, or so called talk therapy can be extremely effective, but the
most advertised way of curing depression is with medication. Unfortunately, the barriers to seeking
treatment include several factors, such as cost and access as well as emotional barriers, like embarrassment, fear of social consequences or an unwillingness to discuss personal issues. All these factors are especially present in the life of young
adults. According to WHO (2012), there also appears to be a lack of resources,
lack of trained health-care providers, and social stigma associated with mental
disorders. So alternative
treatments are continuously searched, such as relaxation techniques –
meditation, exercise or a healthy shift in lifestyle which can help lift
depression faster.

For
one, physical exercise may be a promising intervention given its low barriers
to entry (e.g. low cost and ease of access) and its ability to meaningfully
improve depressive symptoms (Cooney, Dwan, & Mead, 2014). The general outcome from research
indicates that exercise can bring about many physiological changes which result
in an improvement in mood state, self-esteem and lower stress and anxiety
levels (Mikkelsen et al., 2017).  The
form of aerobic exercise for instance, may help
against mild depression, with raising endorphin levels and stimulating norepinephrine,
a neurotransmitter which is related to mood (MacGill, 2017).

Further studies found that exercise is an
effective treatment and is comparable to antidepressant therapy, also a few researches
have examined the different characteristics of exercise, such as type,
intensity, duration or frequency. According
to Helgado?ttir et al. (2016) exercise, whether performed at a low (yoga or
similar), moderate or vigorous intensity (aerobic training) is effective in
treating mild to moderate depression and is at least as effective as treatment
as usual by a physician. Hassmén, Koivula, Uutela (2000) concluded that
individuals who practice physical fitness training 2 or 3 times a week have a lower level of depression, anger
and stress, compared to those who practice less or no physical activity. At the
same time, they have a higher sense of social integration and psychological
wellbeing. Dunn et al. (2005) also found supporting evidence in this regard. They
found that an exercise dose equivalent to minimum physical activity
recommendations (17.5-kcal/kg/week) was more effective than a lower dose, and
that the effect did not vary with frequency (3 versus 5 times a week). All
these results suggest, that exercise performed at any intensity can be equally
effective in treatment for depression as compared to treatment as usual by a
physician.

Given the growing interest in exercise as a treatment for depression, the aim of the current investigation is to address yet another
approach, by examining the settings in which exercise is performed. There is
lack of knowledge about which factors within exercising could influence the population
of young adults, who often face
depression.

Young adults who are inevitably going through major
life changes while starting their adult life, usually lean on a support network
to maintain a sense of belonging with this stable medium. Social support refers to the emotionally sustaining
qualities of relationships (e.g., a sense that one is loved, cared for, and
listened to). Umberson et al. (2010) pointed out that social ties influence
health behaviour, partly because they influence or „control” our
health habits. Also, social
support may have indirect effects on health through enhanced mental health, by
reducing the impact of stress, or by fostering a sense of meaning and purpose
in life (Cohen 2004). It is thus clear how important social relationships are
in one’s life to maintain mental well-being.

            Though social
relationships have an impact on mental health, it is essential not to ignore its
powerful influence on physical health as well. In fact, mental and physical
health are strongly influenced by each other. Paul Jansons et al. (2017) found
that motivation for
exercise may be enhanced via social support and interaction between exercise
group members with similar health issues. At the same time mental health benefits of physical
activity may be partly accounted for by the social interaction involved in
group sports in particular (Elaine M.
McMahon et al., 2016). So social support in group exercise
context may promote the satisfaction of competence and relatedness, which are
basic psychological needs as well as encourage one to invest in a healthier
lifestyle overall. Zhou, J., D.
Heim, & K. O’Brien (2015)
also proved that participation in team
sports leads to higher levels of happiness than when playing individual sports.

The aim of this study is to further
investigate the theory above, by gaining knowledge of the effectiveness of
exercise on depression, by finding out how social settings play a role. Given
suggestive evidence, interventions and group activities can be conducted to
improve life of young adults. Thus, the study will seek to answer whether
group-based exercise is more effective in treatment of depression than
individual-based exercise amongst depressed students. Students are a
representative sample for the younger population.

            Based on previous
literature, our hypothesis is that exercising in group settings is more
effective in curing depressive symptoms in the target population, than
exercising individually. To find evidence, we plan on using a pretest-posttest
design to compare depressive symptoms in students. The participants will be
examined before and after taking part in a 12-week long exercise plan, which is
based either in a group setting open to social interactions, or should be
performed individually in absolute isolation. We predict that, depressive symptoms will
reduce more significantly in the group-based exercise group in comparison to
the individual-based exercise group.