Pilates workouts can do wonders for the body and mind. Depression is currently considered one of the great evils that affect humanity. Commonly, we all know someone who lives or experienced difficulties with this swing of mood.

However, the term depression, in everyday language, has been used to designate both a normal affective state (sadness), as well as a symptom, a syndrome, and even the manifestation of one or more diseases.

The clinical evaluation of the depressed person allows identifying a range of symptomatic possibilities and physiological alterations. The aspects that highlight the psychological characteristics and physiological alterations that make up the depressive picture affect various areas of the patient’s life, compromising their personal and social activities.

We can group these symptoms in five different areas: humor, cognition or thinking, somatic aspects, corporal expression, and social life. In this text, I will explain better about the treatment of depression through Pilates.

Symptoms of Depression

Although the most typical characteristic of depressive states is the prominence of feelings of sadness or emptiness, not all patients report the subjective feeling of sorrow. Above all, many refer to the loss of the ability to experience pleasure in activities in general and the reduction of interest in the environment.

It is often associated with the sensation of fatigue or loss of energy, characterized by the complaint of excessive fatigue, psychomotor disturbances, mainly slowness, or psychomotor retardation.

Psychic symptoms generally refer to mood swings that involve feelings of sadness, self-worth, and feelings of guilt. Patients often allude to the feeling that everything seems futile or unimportant to them.

They believe that they irreversibly lost the ability to feel joy or pleasure in life. With this comes the reduction of the ability to experience pleasure in most activities, previously considered pleasant, depressed people may report that they are no longer interested in their favorite hobbies.

Physiological symptoms are also prevalent in the clinical picture of depression, such as sleep disturbances (insomnia or drowsiness), appetite disturbances (most commonly loss of appetite and increased appetite may also occur), fatigue, or a sensation of loss of energy, for example.

The depressed person may report persistent fatigue, even without physical exertion, and the mildest tasks seem to require substantial effort. The time for the functions’ execution can increase considerably, showing the need for depression treatment to be necessary.

In depression, it is also common to observe musculoskeletal disorders. Patients often refer to the sensation of weight in the limbs, discomfort, and even significant chronic pain complaints such as headache, vague pain in the chest, abdomen, shoulders, and spine.

It should be remembered that these factors can mask the diagnosis of depressions. Anxiety is also frequently associated.

Body expression becomes typical of depressive patients.

Characteristics such as low head, deep-set chest, curved spine, difficulty looking people in the eyes, devitalized gaze, unconcern with personal hygiene, indifference with appearance, shallow breathing, slow and contained movements are some of the obvious somatic manifestations. These symptoms show the need for treatment of depression. That’s where Pilates workouts step in!

How Pilates workouts can contribute to the Treatment of Depression

Since it encompasses the field of physical and mental health, it is of the utmost importance that a multidisciplinary group conducts the treatment of depression, and some aspects of the disease need to be known so that a treatment plan can be drawn up that takes into account all the physical and mental context involved in this process.

One of the most challenging tasks in physical and mental health is helping those who do not want help.

It is common for there to be some resistance from the depressed to accept family or professional help to treat depression for various reasons.

The person may refuse help because they do not recognize themselves as sick, be afraid of assuming their fragility in front of other people and damage their image in social coexistence (work, school, family, friends), experience a feeling of abandonment in front of life due to lack of information about the disease.

In this context, it is observed that the bond of trust between the patient and the one who tries to help him is of fundamental importance to overcome resistance, making him feel welcomed, loved, respected, and understood, which will lead to the natural process of treatment without prejudice to the patient.

The Pilates workouts aim to work the body in an integrated way with the mind, seeking the improvement of neurophysiological conditions and rebalancing muscle chains, breathing, posture, and body stability. All this helps in the treatment of depression.

The search for body awareness has awakened the need to improve the body’s appreciation of the environment. The benefits can be reflected in the external and internal image of the individual who practices it.

In addition to these factors, the Pilates method also considers individuality necessary to approach the student, contributing to the narrowing of the approach between professional and student/patient, making them feel important, cared for, and valued during the treatment of depression.

However, Pilates’ practice by the depressed patient can also contribute to combating physiological symptoms, avoiding fatigue, stress, chronic pain, and improving posture and quality of sleep.

Benefits of Pilates Workouts for Treatment

Many studies view Well-targeted physical activity as beneficial for physical and mental health. As positive effects of the practice of Pilates in the treatment of depression, we can mention:

  • Increased energy and vitality

  • Reduced risks of osteoporosis and hypertension

  • Improved appetite

  • Reduced irritability

  • Stress relief

  • Improved quality of sleep

  • Increased muscle tone

  • Improved appearance, energy, and fitness also increase self-esteem.

The body posture of the depressed is often marked by a curved spine, drooping shoulders, and a lowered head, preventing the gaze from seeking a more comprehensive contact with the world around them. The expression of isolation and the lack of courage, energy, and hope is clear.

In an attempt to stimulate the reaction of a friend, not infrequently, someone is observed saying incentive phrases: “Raise that head!”; “Fix that posture!”; “Look up!”. People are likely to have no idea of ​​the depth of these tips in treating depression.

By correcting posture and looking up, the depressed person improves their body’s energy flow, widens their breathing, and expands their visual contact with the world around them, altering their perception and thoughts.

In addition to correcting posture, there are other bodily works capable of influencing the improvement of the depressive picture through Pilates.

Among them are stretching exercises, mainly of the cervical muscles and the pectoral and abdominal regions, which help expand and deepen breathing. Strengthening the posterior chain, inspiratory chain, and PowerHouse also helps provide stability and security to the student.

Depending on the daily activities and repressions of emotional expression experienced in childhood, the respiratory process is impaired. The chronic tension caused in some muscle groups as a function of contained emotions has severe consequences for the body and mind.

Among the causes of tension, we can cite protection against sadness, causing the abdomen to contract; Sexual inhibition, causing contraction of the belly, inhibition of verbal expression, causing a contraction in the throat region.

Also, cervical flexor muscles inhibit the expression of anger, generating generalized muscle tension, trapezius, and temples.

Pilates Workouts Indicated for the Treatment of Depression

Among the Pilates exercises, the most indicated for the treatment of depression are those that work anterior chain stretching, posterior chain strengthening, inspiratory chain and powerhouse (abdominals and pelvic floor), in addition to stabilizing the trunk and waistlines.

Some Tips to Help Treatment

In addition to the orientation in the practice of Pilates, it is important that the instructor knows how to handle the aspects of depression in the most beneficial and positive way possible. Therefore, some strategies can be adopted in favor of improving the treatment of depression:

  • Tip # 1

Listen to the complaint of the depressed person, avoiding making comments that reduce their suffering; Lead the person to perceive (appearance, attitudes) and highlight how much they can improve.

  • Tip # 2

Demonstrate positive feedback during the practice of the exercises in the treatment of depression, reacting with enthusiasm for each goal achieved, making the student feel proud. Implementing challenges from time to time can motivate you and awaken the feeling that you can improve and self-confidence.

  • Tip # 3

Show the personal damages caused by the lack of physical activity, and alert you to the importance of keeping it active and assiduous.

  • Tip # 4

Do not show excessive compassion for the pain of the sick person. This attitude reinforces the idea that it really is very bad and that everything in life is difficult. Respect his suffering, but make him realize that you have enough energy to help him and that he believes in his ability to react.

  • Tip # 5

It is common for the depressed to not accept advice from relatives. Interference from a friend or professional may be more effective and you may be more open and receptive to discussing depression treatment.

  • Tip # 6

It is good to remember that pushing too hard can have the opposite effect and that patience and tolerance can produce an indispensable relationship of trust.

  • Tip # 7

In the most serious cases, or in situations in which collaboration on the part of the depressed person is not achieved, it is advisable that a family member or friend seek professional guidance, in order to understand the problem, know what is the best position to be adopted and what care should be taken, mainly in relation to the risk of suicide.