Department of Psychiatry, Jichi Medical University, 3311-1 Yakushiji, Shimotsuke, Tochigi, Japan
Severe social withdrawal, called hikikomori, has drawn increased public attention. However, an optimal
clinical approach and strategy of treatment has not been well established. Here, we report a case of hikikomori for which an exercise intervention
using jogging therapy was effective, showing cerebral hemodynamic improvement. The patient was a 20 year old Japanese male who was hospitalized in order
to evaluate and treat severe social withdrawal. Although depressive and anxiety symptoms partially subsided with sertraline alone, social withdrawal persisted due to a lack of self confidence. With his consent, we implemented exercise therapy with 30 minutes of jogging three times a week for three months. We did not change the pharmacotherapy, and his social withdrawal remarkably improved with continuous jogging exercise. Using near infrared spectroscopy to evaluate hemodynamic alteration, bilateral temporal hemodynamics considerably increased after the three-month jogging therapy. Regarding exercise therapy for mental illness, numerous studies have reported the effectiveness of exercise therapy for major depression. This case implied, however, that the applicability of exercise therapy is not limited to major depressive disorder. Jogging therapy may contribute to reinforcing self confidence associated with “resilience” in conjunction with neurophysiological modulation of neural networks.
Keywords: Actigraphy, Hemodynamics, Hikikomori, Jogging, Near-infrared spectroscopy, Social withdrawal.
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