The charity Nuffield Health claims that GPs are 46 times more likely to prescribe prescription medication for depression than other forms of therapy including exercise.

Only 1% were of patients were advised to exercise even though some studies have found exercise was more effective than no therapy for reducing symptoms of depression.  Only  4% of patients said they would rather be given medication, if there were a choice.

The charity also found that out of a survey of 2000 people showed that 44% had regular symptoms of anxiety, an increase from 33% in 2008.

Nuffield Health said: ‘To offer workable support early on, when a patient experiences the first signs of mental health such as increased anxiety and low mood, may prevent a more serious depression taking hold’.

They would like to see doctors giving more advice about the advantage of exercise for mental health.

Beth Murphy, of mental health charity Mind, said: ‘Mind has found that people who do regular exercise or take part in ecotherapy activities such as gardening can improve their mental well-being and reduce feelings of depression.

‘We urge health professionals to take alternatives such as exercise seriously and consider a range of treatments that offer more choice for individuals.’

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