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Depression and Cycling?(22 posts)

Depression and Cycling?QUiTSPiNiNArOuND
Nov 25, 2002 1:04 PM
I just notice a lot of articles of people who are pro cyclist who suffer from depression. Even some people from this message board too. I have had it before, after being physically sick and not being able to ride. Now i belive, and am not sure if i am falling back into it. I have been sick for a couple of days, and it seems to correlate. Anybody know the facts about this? Are there any tips out there on what to do as well...?
pretty common I thinkColnagoFE
Nov 25, 2002 1:13 PM
Are you suffering from clinical depression or are you just kinda bummed out? There is a world of difference. Clinical depression can immobilize a person and make their life a living hell. I'd go get checked out by a dr. if you are worried as there are plenty of treatements out there now. Personally the Zoloft route helped me for a bit but after about a year I hated having to take anything and weaned myself off it. I do think it helped me out of a major rut though. Took the edge off, but for me not a permanent solution or a cure. Cycling and exercise actually seem to be the best therapy for me these days.
Exercise the best medicineOffTheBack
Nov 25, 2002 1:21 PM
I haven't noticed a high correlation between cycling and depression, but if there is one, surely it is NOT because cycing contributes to depression. If anything, it's because depression sufferers have discovered, consciously or not, that aerobic exercise is one of the best things you can do to combat it. Trust me, I know - I've had the big D off and on for 8 or 9 years now. I'm currently on 40mg of Prozac which works really well for me.

OTOH, if you're just tired you could be overtrained...take a couple days off the bike and see if you feel better.
pretty common I thinkQUiTSPiNiNArOuND
Nov 25, 2002 1:22 PM
well...i had clinical depression for about six months, 3 4 months ago. I was on paxil, and that time really sucked. Now it seems like im falling back in that hole. If i have to go through that whole ordeal i guess i will. Just wondering if there is quicker ways to get back. Cycling has helped a lot though.
pretty common I thinkJon Billheimer
Nov 25, 2002 2:34 PM
There's a theory that we consciously or unconsciously indulge in behaviours to self-medicate. Personally I think there's some truth in it. I'm biologically hardwired for depression (not major, but chronic, subclinical, with a threshold beyond which I have gone into a clinical funk). Unfortunately, I don't metabolize antidepressants well. But running and then cycling for the most part keep me sane and on an even keel. I wouldn't be surprised if the tendency to biological depression is higher among endurance athletes than the population as a whole. Just speculation.
Yes, see a doctor -- perhaps a specialist.mja
Nov 25, 2002 2:37 PM
Perhaps you should not have stopped the medication. I am on Paxil, which put an end to decades of episodic depression and related chronic symtoms, and has almost no side effects. I plan to take it for the rest of my days.
I Agree too!mazobob
Nov 25, 2002 5:27 PM
I don't like taking the meds because of the side effects. The cycling really helps keep it in control. This is just a hard time of year to ride in WI because its so friggin cold! I'll suit up tomorrow and THANKS FOR SHARING! And the motivation!
paxil has its ups and downs...rollo tommassi
Nov 26, 2002 6:08 AM
I've been on paxil for 10years, but was off it for about two years. suddenly my anxiety came back with a whallop, and have been back on it.

There are ups and downs to how paxil metabolizes in your system, so if you've skipped a day or two, it can take a week for it to kick back in. Read up on how SSRI's work, and how serotonin levels are affected. I can't tell by your post your gender, but I know that my menstrual periods can kick in a level of depression.

I don't entirely understand the link between endorphins and serotonin levels in the brain; sporting activity certainly charges up the endorphins but I don't think it has any relation to serotonin re-uptake.

Just remember: you are not alone in your ordeal...there may not be a quicker way to 'get back', but work with your doctor and loved ones and you will manage the illness. Cycling will help a lot, but avoid beating yourself up if you don't feel like riding!

keep us posted!
"was on paxil"??????eyebob
Nov 26, 2002 8:49 AM
I'm a bit worried about you. If you had depression about 3-4 months ago you should still be on Paxil. How long were you on it? As you (hopefully) know, it takes about 6 weeks for most SSRI's to reach their peak effect (and as many as 6 Months to get out of your system) You may be slipping backwards (which statistically most do) simply because you're not on an SSRI. Look, I'm no fan of Paxil but I took myself off of it very slowly with the help of therapy, exercise, and suppliments for the very reason that I didn't want to slip backwards soon after feeling better.

If you're worried about being on it, education about your problem is of great benefit too. Read, read, read.

Get some help. If you too, want to take this off the board, you can e-mail me at
Paxil and performance.Frith
Nov 26, 2002 2:46 PM
Does paxil have any affect on heart rate or endurance performance generally?
Paxil and performance.rollo tommassi
Nov 26, 2002 3:39 PM
there are a host of potential side effects, all of which you can talk yourself into having. Every individual will have a different response to the medication - the most common is weight gain - but it All Depends. Depends on dosage, etc.

Do a Google search on 'paxil side effects' and you will get numerous hits, but be warned, there are those that see a conspiracy theory everywhere, and psychiatric medications are no exception. Don't let the scare stories scare you!

Go to for the corporate viewpoint and compare this with what your doctors' opinion is.
No. No athletic performance issues. Published report....eyebob
Nov 27, 2002 10:53 AM
in the NEJM I think. A peer reviewed journal at least.

avoid psychotropic drugs if you cankenyee
Nov 26, 2002 7:37 AM
One little known fact about the school shootings a while back is that just about all the kids were on prescribed depression medicine. A side effect is psychotic behavior. I only saw one or two stories on it amid the weeks and weeks of babbling heads trying to blame the schools and inanimate objects. Almost no one pointed the finger at the drugs or the doctors :-P

If exercise helps the depression, do it instead...
questionable adviceColnagoFE
Nov 26, 2002 9:49 AM
If drugs help then by all means take them. Better to be on drugs than kill yourself or live an empty life because of depression. If you can do it without drugs then by all means do, but the fact is that these drugs help a lot of people and shouldn't be discounted because one of the Columbine killers was on Luvox--the other kid wasn't on anything as far as I remember. I don't think they ever proved that the drugs had anything to do with the killings though I've heard that drugs like Paxil can have bizarre side effects if you stop them cold turkey. Definately ask your doctor before taking or stopping anything that affects your mind.
you're right about that those who need it should take itkenyee
Nov 26, 2002 12:37 PM
Just wanted to mention that those drugs shouldn't be taken lightly.

The other Columbine killer wasn't on a depression drug, but a few of the other incidents had kids on those drugs; even the stock market killer was on Prozac. From a quick Google search on "psychotropic":

As novagator mentioned, it might just be the type of people that have to take the drugs rather than the drugs, but...
Yeah, or it might be that millions of people take the drugs.djg
Nov 27, 2002 6:20 AM
There are probably two sorts of biases at play here. On the one hand, the larger population of people seeking such drugs may evident a systematic bias towards multiple and severe psychological problems. That doesn't mean most folks on prozac are seriously wack, it just means that, taken as a population, the incidence of serious problems is higher--we're still talking a small minority, who have nothing to do with most folks suffering from mild depression, we're just talking about a somewhat larger minority, statistically speaking, than we find in the population as a whole.

On the other hand, some of the press stories reporting killer anecdotes may just be evidence of a subjective bias--that is, a certain sort of representative fallacy. We have a very large population taking certain drugs. Make the population large enough and most of the problems that show up in the general population will show up here too, in roughly the same proportion as they do in the general population. Of someone's indefinitely many attributes some are more salient than others. Our propensity to notice certain sorts of things, and to link certain sorts of things, is in general helpful but in many cases simply misleading. Thus specious correlations (and all sorts of false beliefs) are born.

There are some rather different families of anti-depressents out there. And there's a great deal of published systematic research on all of them. I think that the suggestion to take the issues of possible side-effects and adverse events seriously to be a very good one. If anybody is contemplating a course of such medication, his or her doctor should be willing to discuss these issues, and should even be able to point the patient to some relevant readings. If you're just curious, try doing a search on pub med. At the same time, be aware that news stories can make entirely specious correlations very salient. Many murderers have been born in Brooklyn. As far as I know, the etiology of this strange Brooklyn-birth-killer-syndrome has yet to be pinned down.
agree about the media trying to point fingers w/o solid basiskenyee
Nov 27, 2002 7:33 AM
I noticed they did the same thing w/ video games and guns. I should have realized the drug thing was overdone as well, but wondered if it was real because it wasn't covered much.

It was very surprising to hear about that many kids being prescribed anti-depressants though. I always thought it was a normal part of a kid's growing cycle...
I have to...novagator
Nov 26, 2002 12:12 PM
disagree with you on this...millions of people take SSRI's for depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety, OCD, and other seretonine related issues. For the most part, these folks live normal lives. You'll find that the % of folks who perpetrate homocides or act out in a physcotic manner is the same among the general population as it is among the population of people who take SSRI's - I'd wager that it is even LESS among the SSRI population. The stigma of mental illness in this country is a powerful one that has yet to be overcome, completely. Taking meds for a chemical imbalance in the brain is, or should be, as normal as taking insuline for a diabetic. Bottomline, if you need SSRI's or MAOI's for a chemical imbalance, you should not feel ashamed or scared to take them
Personality types?Eager Beagle
Nov 26, 2002 7:46 AM
I know nothing much about clinical psychology (though others here do).

I wonder though if (serious) cycling attracts a higer than average proportion of a certain type of induvidual?

Slight "loners", highly motivated people, those more resistant to pain and fatigue, slight obsessives etc?

Perhaps those personality typres are more prone to depressive episodes?

On the practical front, I find a really good ride puts a smile on my face in almost any circumstances, as indeed does hard excercise in general.

Personality types - definitely agreestan_b
Nov 26, 2002 9:00 AM
I almost think it takes at least some of the personality traits you describe to make a dedicated cyclist.

I know I can relate to having some of them at times depression. On the other hand, the highs are wonderful!
I was just thinking yesterday about thisUncleMoe
Nov 26, 2002 1:18 PM
I know I have an Obsessive Compulsive tendency. Not sure I'd call it a disorder because I live a normal life and I'm happy with it, yet cycling sucks in a lot of my attention, probably for the better.

I wouldn't doubt that most people on this board and the MTBR board fit this bill. If there was a test administered to us, bet we'd all score on the ODD side of things.

I suppose to excel at anything you need to be a bit obsessive.
Old tread out of the archives on this subject.Scot_Gore
Nov 26, 2002 7:07 PM
netso "How many of you tend to be introverts?" 6/3/02 5:14pm