One of the best kept secrets in the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders is the proven efficacy of a program of exercise, which has many benefits on mood, but has yet to be widely adopted as a therapeutic technique. This therapist guide provides guidance for care providers who want to apply exercise-based interventions to the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders.
The interventions described can be applied in a variety of settings ranging from primary care to specialty care in the context of psychological, psychiatric, nursing, or social work settings. Treatment is organized around a weekly prescribed activity program, with an emphasis on teaching patients strategies for staying motivated and organized in order to ensure adherence to the program. In addition to the actual exercise prescription, treatment is directed toward helping individuals get the
most out of exercise by programming post-exercise cognitive processing and exercise-friendly activities.
Introductory chapters of this guide describe the intervention and how to initiate it with patients, while later chapters focus specifically on using exercise to combat depression, including bipolar disorder, as well as stress, worry, and panic. This manual provides an integrated approach to establish exercise programs targeting mood and anxiety disorders and also provides useful cognitive and behavioral interventions designed to support these programs.
Jasper A. J. Smits, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Psychology and Director of the Anxiety Research and Treatment Program at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He is an expert in the treatment of anxiety and mood disorders, and he has been at the forefront of research investigating both the mechanism and dissemination of successful cognitive-behavioral treatment strategies. He has also specialized in the link between anxiety, illness, and
health behaviors (e.g., exercise, smoking); and the evaluation of novel treatment strategies for anxiety patients. His research is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and he has published over 50 scientific works, including a recent co-edited book entitled 'Anxiety in Health Behaviors and Physical
Illness.' His current exercise routine includes regular running, tennis, and biking. He recently completed his first triathlon, and is planning more.
Michael W. Otto, PhD, is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center for
Anxiety and Related Disorders at Boston University. He specializes in the treatment of mood, anxiety, and substance use disorders. Dr. Otto's research focuses on difficult-to-treat populations, including the application of cognitive-behavioral strategies to patients who have failed to respond to previous interventions, as well as developing novel strategies for bipolar disorder and substance use disorders. He has published over 250 scientific articles, chapters, and books spanning his
research interests, and was recently identified as a 'top producer' in the clinical empirical literature. Dr. Otto is past President of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (formerly AABT), a fellow of the American Psychological Association, and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board
for the Anxiety Disorders Association of America. For exercise, he current devotes effort to indoor rock climbing, outdoor running, and occasional time in the swimming pool.