Overtraining Syndrome — When Exercise Causes Depression, Rather Than Curing it

Tiffani Galeas
Mar 8, 2018 · 3 min read

There is no greater pleasure than taking a brisk walk in the park and enjoying the nature’s bounty. It helps a person to de-stress in a big way and prevents negative thinking by releasing the happiness hormones and boosting the key neurotransmitters, like serotonin and dopamine. Although exercise, yoga, controlled breathing techniques, etc. play a pivotal role in overcoming depression, excessive exercise and overtraining increase the risk of clinical depression.

Termed as overtraining syndrome (OTS), it is more prevalent among elite athletes. It can also lead to a range of depressive symptoms in dedicated amateurs, such as long-distance runners. Simply saying, one develops OTS due to the lack of adequate rest and recovery from the past injuries, such as Achilles tendon rupture, stress fracture, etc. The extreme levels of overtraining along with other stressors cause mood changes and disruptions to the body systems (neurologic, endocrinologic and immunologic).

Depression is a mental disorder characterized by the persistent feeling of hopelessness, worry, sadness, etc. People going through depression also exhibit lack of interest in the routine activities. Those suffering from OTS develop overuse injuries, changes in blood chemistry, poor immunity, high blood pressure (BP) and heart rate. The most common signs of OTS in a person is depression and fatigue. During chronic depression, a person might require sustained engagement with a psychiatrist, medications and therapy sessions, followed with extensive changes in lifestyle and diet, to rise above the stress.

Decoding overtraining syndrome

Irrespective of how fit a person might be, the long hours of training and workout causes wear and tear of the critical muscles. When such an injury happens, the affected person feels sad and depressed due to the absence of the daily quota of dopamine rush. Moreover, they are not able to deliver the same performance like before. In their eagerness to achieve the same form again, they overtrain themselves.

Additionally, when someone undergoes overtraining or excessive exercise, the law of diminishing returns comes into play due to increased tolerance. Therefore, the kind of dopamine rush experienced earlier on achieving a new milestone is not felt any longer despite raising the bar. The entire thing becomes more of a monotonous activity.

The lack of enthusiasm could cause a perceptible decrease in performance levels. As a result, people suffering from OTS are unable to clock the same speed as earlier. According to Sabrena Jo, a senior exercise scientist with the American Council on Exercise (ACE), “The first sign of overtraining is when the performance of the exercise starts decreasing.” Some of the additional symptoms associated with overtraining are sleep disturbances, lack of motivation and moodiness, she added.

When such physiological changes occur, women suffering from OTS are likely to miss their periods. Therefore, it is necessary to consult a doctor to seek guidance related to their mental health problem. In the light of the health hazards associated with overtraining, it is necessary to observe the following measures:

· Ramp up the performance levels gradually.

· Enjoy the workout instead of worrying about the amount of calories burnt.

· Take a break once a week or have a cheat day, when one can laze about instead of hitting the gym.

· Ensure prolonged rest and allow the body to recover fully after an injury.

Excess of anything is bad

Depression is one of the common mental health conditions in America. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), there are around 16.2 million adults in America who had one major depressive episode in 2016. This is equivalent to 6.7 percent of all American adults. Studies suggest that Americans are comparatively more depressed now than before.

The problem is so much prevalent among youngsters that many complain about poor sleep and appetite. They run the risk of developing suicidal tendencies. Given the growing challenges of depression, it is essential to seek guidance and depression treatment help from experts.

If you or your loved one is suffering from depression, the Florida Depression Helpline can assist you with the information on high-quality depression treatment help in Fort Myers and other cities. Call our 24/7 helpline number 866–267–5177 today.

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Depression is a mental and physical illness. Depression usually begins gradually and gets progressively worse.

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