Depression (again!)

Hi all.

Now I know that running is supposed to be great at relieving depression, but mine has got steadily worse since I've been taking my running more seriously ('seriously' meaning training properly, not running about with a big frown!). The thing is, I love it and it feels like a big positive thing in my life, but I'm beginning to wonder.

Anyone have any views on this?


  • Well I think technically exercise is supposed to increase seratonin levels, whichh is supposed to keep you happier.
  • Are you perhaps taking your running too seriously and feeling depressed when you don't achieve the maybe too high goals that you set yourself?
  • What's happening elsewhere in your life, Swerve? I'm not suggesting that you have to tell me (although you're welcome to - I'm a nosy git), but do think about it.

    I don't suffer from depression, but definitely notice changes in my brain when I'm running a lot. The most prominent of these, and the most incapacitating, is the inability to sit down and concentrate on jobs which involve creative use of language. Getting that part of my cortical function back is the upside to the occasions when I have to stop running for a while.
  • LizzyBLizzyB ✭✭✭
    Hi Swerve. I had some very big upheavals in my life about 5 years ago, which resulted in me suffering from depression for quite a while. All this coincided with training for FLM (which I took quite seriously).

    Firstly, although running gave me a real focus outside the rest of my troubles, it did give me more time to think (which wasn't always a good thing). I would often get really stressed during runs, as my mind would just be working overtime.

    Secondly, training is stressful in itself. I was advised at the time to give up some of the extra stresses I put upon myself (at the time I was training for FLM I was also working 50-60 hour weeks, doing a film studies course and climbing three times a week or more (and doing the odd climbing competition). So although running did give me a focus, the concentration on training and acheivement just put another layer of stress onto me, which, to my rather confused and scared mind at the time, was just one extra thing to cope with (or not). I gave up the film studies course and the climbing competitions (which were REALLY stressful) but carried on with the running.

    But we're all different, this is just what happened to me. There is a happy medium in between training properly and letting it all slide ... just running for enjoyment, doing what you feel like doing and running for what you see around you rather than for any specific goal.

    Anyway, I've rambled on long enough, and as I said, this is just my experience, but I did find that running wasn't the depression cure-all that some claim it is but I think, years on, I am some way to undertanding why it didn't work for me at the time. Good luck.LizzyB xx
  • I dont know your situation but it may help just to forget about your running goals for a couple of weeks, just run for fun, whenever whereever and for how long you feel like if you think the serious aspect of your training maybe the cause.

    As Lizzy B said, when running you mind tends to be free to wander, now this is what most people like about running but for some people this can be hard as your mind drags up things you'd rather not think about
  • One other thing i would like to add is, even though i love running, I do find myself worrying quite a bit about how im gonna fit it all in, i have very little free time and if i decide to run it means i have no time to do anything other than work and run that day, which does get me down, i have to work and i choose to run, everyone has to make sacrifices but they are not always easy
  • Thanks for the replies, chaps.

    Yup, I do generally have a need to achieve and a big sense of failure when I don't, and this is a major trigger for me. But mostly I feel that I'm making good progress with my running, so I don't get that failure thing much. Occasionally I have a bad run, and occasionally I stress over my weekly mileage, but I don't think that outweighs the achievement. Lizzy - yes, you may well be on the right lines. Rings a lot of bells. V-rap, yes, I have trouble with concentration at work, and work (and my pretty dire performance at it) is a huge stress for me right now. The anti-depressants do much the same thing for my concentration too. I'm seeing my GP this week, and I'll talk over that side of things. And no, I'll keep my other life things secret for now (I know, spoilsport!), but there are a number of factors there bringing me down. I've been depressed to varying degrees for a lot of years now, but there are more than the usual number of particular depressing influences at the mo. My mind does wander a bit while I'm out, but it tends not to head into depressive thoughts (pain yes, depression no!). I might try a week or two without running and see how I react.

    Again, thanks, and if anyone else has any input, I'd love to hear it.
  • I've had creative people complain that taking antidepressants blocks their ability to do things with words or music or colour or whatever, and can only guess that losing what little right-side-of-brain activity that I have is due to the additional free serotonin resulting from exercise.

    If Kurt Cobain had been a runner, maybe he'd still be alive but he'd be an accountant who dabbled a bit in music and nobody would have heard of him.
  • Hi Swerve,

    I have been suffering from depression for a long time now. i find that running helps a lot, more that the medication but, as a serious perfectionist, I find that if I start to train hard, I start to think about results and it makes me extremely anxious and worried. Now that I have been injured and unable to train hard, I find that I am less anxious and more relaxed.
    If you feel the same way, I think it is important to build up your training slowly,so you can relax in between harder training days. Good luck!
  • id echo the performance stress side of it - i found that when i 'used' excercise as an antidote to depression it could make me more stressed about it - having to do it rather than wanting to do it

    i also wonder whether there might be some chemical explanation - the antidepressants work on certain neurochemical pathways and perhaps the natural high response interferes in some way with how the antidepressants work ? thats just a guess and not an informed opinion btw!

    just a point tho i changed from prozac (which was making me more anxious) to effexor which has certainly improved my depression - but i find that im very lacking in drive , or the kind of ambition that i used to have - might be nothing, might just be laziness or age setting in or it might be the depression or the way the antidepressants work !
  • Bune, how much are you taking?
    (sorry to highjack the thread)
  • Have you thought of meditation? I read in the BBC internet that it is conclusively found that Buddhists are calmer or happier or more content - I extrapolate that it is because they meditate more. Walking is more meditative than running, especially in beautiful surroundings. In fact, one thing that I miss about walking more is that I don't take time enough to notice the flowers.
  • Or is there something else that you've been interested in but never really had time to persue, for example art or something, if you are going to take a couple of weeks off running and don't want to just do nothing why not try your hand at something else, a lot of colleges now offer 'taster' courses for a couple of saturday mornings or somthing just to introduce people to new things
  • aw S

    im taking 75mg of effexor XL (the pack with go faster stripes! like a GTI or something!) its sustained release so i dont have to faff about with too many pills - ive just noticed recently that i dont seem as bothered bout things as as i used to be - it doesnt really matter in the way it used to - so im guessing i might have have been someone whose anxiety gave them a bit of momentum - now im kinda chilled about things in a aw what the hell way rather than a nothing is worth bothering negative way !

    maybe im just relaxing abit as i used to be very driven to be perfect etc!
  • Sounds like an improvement to me Bune...
  • Thanks all.
    Good ideas - and good to know you care! :-)
  • popsiderpopsider ✭✭✭
    Take up football. I always find running is good for forgetting things for the duration of the run, but it doesn't last and problems are still problems when you get back. But with football you can go down the pub with the lads after and that way you wipe out your worries for the whole day.
  • Swerve as another runner on antidepressants I really sympathise, but I generally find the running improves things.

    V-Rap I am one of those artistic/creative types and still find the ability to compose/write/paint without suffering from artists block. (I hape more problems composing when I was seriously depressed more manuscript paper ended up in the bin than submitted at college)

    Don't expect too much of yourself and you'll be pleased with whatever results you get. Find a way to do something positive just for you.

    Good luck. I hope things improve soon. Will be praying/thinking about you and if you want any further advice email me.
  • Remember, they say a change is as good as a holiday.

    Take up something different, even if only for a couple of weeks
  • boing
  • I'm getting depressed..
  • Oh yes, I remember this thread! Well boinged, that Hippo.

    Just to update, and for Staggering On on another thread, I recently had a couple of months more-or-less off running with injury. This co-incided with a pretty serious depressive phase and a short spell on some (lovely) tranquilisers. Since then, I'm back running and more positive. Can't be sure that it's not just co-incidence, especially as there were external factors involved, but I'm much more convinced that running is A Good Thing.

    Hope that helps.
  • Only occasional personal acquaintance with depression, but tremendous admiration for all who still put their trainers on and run through it.

    My difficulties have been different, but I have had to learn one thing which definitely helps: take huge pride just in getting out there. It really is difficult to do, even if there are those who take it for granted.

    As the good song says, it's hard to dance with the devil on your back.

    Hats off. Respect. Heaps and heaps and heaps of respect.
  • Hi everyone. I've just been reading your thread because I posted one earlier this week about stitches so I was trawling the pages a bit. The reason why I've decided to write is because I'm a Psychologist who is a specialist in Stress and I hope I might be able to say something helpful.

    I could say an awful lot in relation to the action of anti-depressants on the brain and about how the body needs serotonin levels to be stable in order to function well. That would make me sound really boring though and what I'm conscious of is not wanting to sound well informed about what you're feeling when I don't know you. Running is clearly a great outlet for pent up emotions/frustration etc for all of us and as such I think it sounds like you'd rather be with it in your life than without it. The more serious we get about the goals we set for it though, the more our personality plays a part in influencing how we feel e.g. the perfectionist may get more frustrated at a bad run than a laid back kind of person.

    I think you've correctly recognised that the other issues in your life are the more pressing need - if there is anything you can do about any of them then the anti-depressants and the running will work better for you. I wish you all the luck and if I can answer a more specific question then I'll try. Otherwise I think regular trips to your Doc to check your dosage/ any side effects and maybe a chat with someone e.g. Counsellor if you think it would help would be great.

    Hope the situation improves,
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