Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS)


Physician Assistant Studies

First Advisor

Kauffman, Russell


depression, depressive disorders, antidepressives, escitalopram, exercise, exercise movements/techniques, exercise therapy, running, at-home exercise, Pilates, application-based exercise, antidepressive agents, Lexapro


The purpose of this literature review is to determine the effectiveness of exercise as either monotherapy or in combination with SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) for the management of major depressive disorder. Studies gathered for this review came from the following databases: PubMed, SpringerLink, Academic Search Ultimate, Academic Search Complete, and CINAHL. Current research completed between the years 2020-2023 that consisted of either clinical trials, RCTs, or meta-analysis were included. A total of eleven studies were reviewed that addressed either the benefits of exercise, SSRIs, or a combination for the management of depression. Upon completion of the literature review, it was determined that exercise can be equivocal to SSRIs and considered a treatment option. While this is a significant finding, the benefits of exercises are more consistent in those that adhere to a program and are more effective if prescribed in combination with SSRIs. While exercise has the potential to be considered as a treatment option for patients with major depressive disorder, it would require providers to have the knowledge and awareness of appropriate exercise modalities and resources available to the patients. It is also vital that providers offer continued support to patients and encourage compliance with their programs to yield optimal outcomes.