Sliding into a Depression…Exercise!!!

A Rough Start:

Today, I woke up and had more trouble than usual getting going. It was very hard to get motivated, and even after going out and getting a few errands done, I was not able to force myself to go to the gym. I came home, forced myself to make some lunch, and basically ran out of energy. For those of you who are familiar with depression, these are all warning signs. The lethargy, lack of motivation, just plain feeling worn out and not wanting to do anything.

The good news: one of my errands was the library to pick up some tai chi dvd’s for the wife and I picked up an exercise dvd and a beginner’s hatha yoga video for me. Turned out to be today’s saving grace!

After coming home for some lunch, I rested for a little bit, then spent about an hour and a half doing the Beginner’s set in the exercise dvd and the entire hatha dvd. By the end of them, mood was not only back to midline, I felt energized and revitalized; ready to make some dinner and spend some time with my sweetie.

Today’s Lesson:

After years of rapid cycling and depression after depression, I’ve learned that if I head it off by doing a full length, low to moderate intensity yoga class or at least 45 minutes of low to mid level cardio. That can be on anything from the cycle to the eliptical to the treadmill – what’s important is to GET MOVING! Boring science stuff but what you’re basically doing is generating a bunch of feel good chemicals to counteract the lowered level of seritonin in your brain. It feels like a “switch” is thrown internally and suddenly I can breathe again and have this incredible sense of relief. Yoga works the best for me but it’s up to you to find your “switch”. Zumba, running, hey pole dancing, anything that gets your heart rate up for an extended length of time is the ticket.

And I know it works for me because, thanks to Moodtracker.com, I can see the graph of mood/cycling before starting an exercise program and after – and the difference is huge! Also have, with doctor’s supervision, been able to significantly lower med levels. Note: always check with doc and work with them to make ANY med changes!!! I needed to because I was seriously overmedicated and the healthier my mental state became, the more this was evident. Can you say zombie!

You, on the other hand, may have your meds right where they need to be. If so, great. The exercise “switch” can still be of benefit to you for minor mood regulation and in your weight loss journey. That is why starting out slow in the beginning in the exercise department is so important. You want to ease into it, gradually adding new activities, increasing duration and intensity, to allow your body to adjust and to prevent injuries.

Today’s Tip:

Exercise can be of benefit in moderating or staving off the beginnings of a depressive episode. However, if you have a major depressive disorder, are on anti-depressants, or have long periods of depression associated with your bipolar disorder, it is critical your contact your doctor if you start feeling much worse. Exercise can help but, in some instances, a med tweak may be necessary. You know your situation better than anyone – please err on the side of caution! Taking care of yourself is the most important thing. Why, because you are worth it, no matter what!!

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