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Exercise Making Me More Depressed/Irritable - HELP

Posted by Survector on May 27, 2004, at 0:34:19

Has anyone ever heard of exercise causing depression, anxiety and extreme irritability later in the day and during subsequent days?

I notice that I feel extremely hopeless and irritable whenever I run beyond a particular intensity/incline level on a treadmill or *especially* when I do crunches and push-ups. At first, I feel that natural exerciser’s ‘high’ for several hours following a workout – then my mood and outlook on life begin to slowly drop as the day goes on – all the way until I hit a rock bottom stage of misery. I begin telling people off while at the same time constantly seeking reassurance and social contact from people. Not only that, but it makes my insomnia unbearable. I plead with chemist or anyone else to provide some level of insight here. Might this be hormone related? I.E. might there be certain hormones being released during exercise that are causing a problem with the regulation of serotonin, norepinepherine or dopamine? Any replies saying, "Oh, you're just pushing yourself too hard – it’s the fatigue" etc. are insufficient. I say this due to the fact that this occurs even if I only do just *several* wimpy beginner’s push-ups and crunches on a given day (like the kind a fitness trainer would have you do on your first day at the gym).

I’ve done extensive searching on this topic under all of the newsgroups, search engines and medical databases to no avail (all of the search results led to articles and such that only touted both the physical and mental benefits of exercising – I only found *one* google newsgroup posting from another man whose situation mirrored my own. He was desperate to find help with the same problem (he claimed to be bi-polar). His e-mail address was unfortunately no longer in service when I tried contacting him. I’ve even gone to my primary physician about this, and the best he was able to recommend was a ‘less intense workout with lighter reps’ while speculating that it might be ‘hormone related’ – but that was the best information he could offer. I’ve had a thyroid test as well as a test done on my liver enzymes – both of which came out normal.

I do suffer from Asperger’s Syndrome (a high-functioning form of autism) along with depression and co-morbid disorders such as OCD and anxiety – however, I notice that when I don’t exercise at all, I don’t feel that god-awful unnatural level of depression, anxiety and irritability that comes on several hours after I do exercise (which even lasts into the next two to three days sometimes). This exercise-induced, unnatural level of depression/anxiety/agitation occurs regardless of whether or not I’m on medication (i.e. the SSRIs, the atypicals, the SNRI Effexor or the benzodiazepines). It also occurs to the same degree while on no medication(s) at all.

If anyone such as chemist, dr. bob, etc could come up with some kind of theory or hypothesis for why this problem occurs - and what might be a theoretical fix for it, please post a reply. This is of great concern for me because exercise is the only way for me to stay physically fit and attractive as a 23-year-old male. As such, it is one of the only avenues I have left for maintaining some level of self-esteem. This is a desperate cry for help.

As a side note: I only workout in the morning after I first get up (not in the evening).




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