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Jiu Jitsu for Anxiety and Depression


You can combat anxiety and depression with Jiu Jitsu.  Anxiety and depression are among the leading mental illnesses in the world today.  Approximately 18.1% of the population in the United States are affected by both anxiety and depression.  As a result, forty million adults in the United States ages 18 and older have experienced a debilitating change in their motivation, energy, and mood.  While pharmaceutical companies benefit from filling the public’s cabinets with prescriptions and aides; most doctors and psychologists will agree that there is one form of medication that stands above the rest: exercise.

The Benefits of Exercise


Exercise is the most powerful way to protect the brain.  Blood flow to the brain is increased during exercise; allowing more oxygen and nutrients to be carried to the brain.  Proteins are then released which keep neurons healthy.  These proteins promote the growth of new cells.  On top of that, exercise releases dopamine and endorphins which improve your mood.  Many exercise routines include cardio and weightlifting.  However, many of the world’s top athletes use a different form of exercise.

“If there were a drug that produced the same brain benefits as exercise, everyone would be taking it,” said Saul Villeda, PhD, UCSF 


Jiu Jitsu for Mental Health


Many of the world’s elite athletes practice martial arts.  The most popular and effective combat sport internationally is Jiu Jitsu.  This sport utilizes mind, body and soul.  Jiu Jitsu is compared to a  game of chess.  Your mind must be aware of all potential possibilities while remaining present.  Some people may compare this to meditation.  Meditation in itself, is a proclaimed remedy for anxiety and depression.  In other words, Jiu Jitsu is a form of “active” meditation.  Consequently, training your mind to be focused in the moment helps relieve the pressures of anxiety.

Anxiety Symptom: Mania


One symptom of anxiety is mania.  Mania causes feelings of aggressive hostility.  Redirecting negative thoughts and actions are important to control your mental health.  Combat sports like Jiu Jitsu force you to react with intellect and athleticism.  In other words, your mind does not have time to trigger the physical side effects of mania.  You will be forced to act with precision while under the pressure of your opponent..  These movements must be intentional and purposeful.  Thus creating critical thinking.

Brain Activity


Scientists compared the brain activity of a depressed and a non-depressed patient using an MRI scan.  The scan shows the person with depression has much less brain activity than the person without depression.  Jiu Jitsu enforces a stronger and more resilient mindset.  A focused mind will help alleviate feelings of anxiety and depression. Like most combat sports, Jiu Jitsu is a one-person sport.  You must adapt on your own.  Adaptation and critical thinking are key ingredients to maintaining an active brain.

Self Esteem


Adapting and overcoming is only one way Jiu Jitsu enforces mental well-being.  Like weightlifters, combat sport athletes have obstacles or challenges they must overcome.  When they overcome these challenges, endorphins rush through the body to create positive feelings.  This is vital to developing a healthier self-esteem.  Even losing helps your mindset.  Losing causes you to analyze your performance and make critical changes.  Allowing you to learn, adapt and come back stronger.

Recognize Anxiety and Depression


In conclusion, anxiety and depression are tremendous issues in modern day society.  It is critical to find a way to combat mental-health issues.  It’s also important to understand how we can help each other overcome anxiety and depression.  While Jiu Jitsu is a one-person sport, you need training partners and instructors to help you overcome obstacles.  If you are interested in Jiu Jitsu, find a gym near you with a suitable environment.  Above all else, always be a team player.  You never know who might be dealing with mental-health issues.