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Effects of comorbid anxiety on exercise as an intervention for MDD

Key clinical point: In major depressive disorder (MDD), exercise could reduce symptoms of anxiety comparable to sertraline; however, higher pretreatment anxiety levels may attenuate the effects of interventions on depression, particularly among exercisers.

Major finding: Compared with the placebo group, both exercise and sertraline groups showed lower Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory scores after 4 months of intervention; however, posttreatment anxiety scores were not significantly different in the exercise and sertraline groups (standardized difference, 0.13; P = .29). Higher pretreatment state anxiety was associated with poorer depression outcomes in active treatment groups vs placebo for Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (P = .004) and Beck Depression Inventory‐II scores (P = .02).

Study details: The data come from a secondary analysis of SMILE‐II trial that included sedentary MDD patients who received supervised aerobic exercise (n = 35), home-based aerobic exercise (n = 40), sertraline (n = 39), or placebo control (n = 35).

Disclosures: The study was funded by National Institute of Mental Health. The authors declared no conflict of interests.


Blumenthal JA et al. Depress Anxiety. 2020 Aug 12. doi: 10.1002/da.23088.