SAN ANTONIO — There are 2 powerful tools which psychopharmacologists would be remiss not to use—and neither one of them is pharmacologic.
That was the message Psych Congress Steering Committee members Rakesh Jain, MD, MPH, and Saundra Jain, MA, PsyD, LPC, delivered to an audience of more than 500 mental health professionals at Thursday’s preconference, titled “Psychopharmacology Reality Check.”
The tools? Exercise and mindfulness. The strength of the evidence for each as a means of improving mental wellness mandates that clinicians must incorporate them into treatment plans, Drs. Jain said.
There are multiple brain-body pathways which are positively affected by physical exercise, and effects can last for as long as 4 days, said Dr. Rakesh Jain, a co-chair of Psych Congress and Clinical Professor at the Department of Psychiatry at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center School of Medicine in Midland, Texas.
“This is not a homeopathic intervention. This is not a feel good,” he said. “It actually is quite a wonderful biological intervention.”
Dr. Rakesh Jain told attendees of a 2016 study in which researchers biopsied 30 mg of muscle tissue from participants’ quadriceps and found significantly elevated levels of multiple enzymes associated with exercise.
“The question is: Have we missed a peripheral antidepressant?” he said. “Have we completely ignored 30 to 50 pounds of flesh that resides on every individual that is a potent antidepressant?”
He encouraged clinicians to consider three elements when discussing exercise with patients: frequency, intensity, and duration. Twenty to 30 minutes is plenty, if patients are exercising frequently, he said.
Dr. Saundra Jain said mindfulness also has numerous proven benefits, from lowering inflammation levels to protecting against depression and anxiety, and its effects can be seen in changes to the brain.
Exercise and mindfulness are two of the components of the WILD 5 wellness program run by Drs. Jain. In a recent 30-day study involving 82 participants, they saw a 43 percent improvement in depression scores and a 40 percent improvement in anxiety scores.
“The data tells us as clinicians we must offer mindfulness meditation as an intervention. It has to be part of our practice toolkit in terms of what we offer our patients as a way to get better,” said Dr. Saundra Jain, an Adjunct Clinical Affiliate at the University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing.
– Terri Airov
“Two Tools Every Psychopharmacologist Should Utilize Even in a Medication-Based Practice: A Modern Update on Exercise and Mindfulness as Tools to Enhance Medication Outcomes.” Presented at the 29th Annual U.S. Psychiatric & Mental Health Congress; October 20, 2016; San Antonio, TX.