Depression and cycling

by lazyusername   December 4, 2011  

Following the Graeme Obree interview thought it might be useful to have a thread to discuss some of the issues highlighted by the interview.

I'm going to try and kick things off in a positive manner and simply share what works for me. I have a depression diagnosis and cycling is massively beneficial. I can't remember a ride where I have got back and felt worse. Slogging my guts out trying to keep a quick pace up or just buggering off for three or four hours and unwinding through the lanes it's all good

I haven't started this thread as a 'this is what you need to do because it worked for me' type thing. Just thought there were a lot people commenting on the interview and it might be beneficial to have a thread to discuss whatever the hell you like

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I have a similar diagnoss - one severe major depressive episode - thankfully no recurrence yet so I don't yet have a "major depressive disorder".

The bike is fantastic, brilliant therapy - I've never needed medication, and I hope I never will, as long as I keep riding.

(We doctors know that exercise works better than drugs, btw, for mild to moderate depression - and the side effect profile's much better too. Yet doctors persist in prescribing sertraline, fluoxetine, citalopram etc - to people who don't need it).

PJ McNally's picture

posted by PJ McNally [591 posts]
4th December 2011 - 11:30

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I posted on the other thread, but forgot to mention that some people recommend 'Chromium' supplements for depression. I take setraline and Chromium. I'm sure most folk will know that alcohol really messes your head up for depression sufferers. I have cut booze back to only a couple of pints a week, otherwise I feel noticably down.

Benny

posted by Bennyboy [30 posts]
6th December 2011 - 15:49

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Great idea! will pop in from time to time.
Read this today on depression,

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/dec/06/need-justify-depression-wo...

interesting am sure many experience the same.

THE ONLY WAY IS BIKE

posted by lushmiester [156 posts]
6th December 2011 - 16:48

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PJ McNally completely agree about exercise and feel you can feel ten times the benefits if you exercise outdoors, possibly this is just me - not a huge fan of gyms. There are drugs with far worse side effects than anti-depressants and I do feel I need anti-depressants, prob for the long term, nothing to get too hung up about but obviously if you can manage without them all the better.

I don't drink at all these days life is better for me like that, good infact.

I don't know if anyone else has noticed this but anecdotally, OK a couple conversations down the pub nonetheless, talking to friends who have taken up cycling a large portion have done so as a response to mental health issues. I realise that any serious analysis of cyclists would prob show most were 'normal', well maybe. Just wondering if anyone had noticed this or is just my peer group

posted by lazyusername [140 posts]
6th December 2011 - 17:20

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100% agree, cycling has a mood and general wellbeing benefit that I cannot get from taking medication, having used fluoxetine and citalopram in the past, I'd much rather have cycling instead.

Also agree with the guardian page, broken legs, winter vomiting virus, flu, are all easier to deal with than having to explain depression or anxiety.

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posted by the_mikey [147 posts]
6th December 2011 - 20:57

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lazyusername wrote:
PJ

I don't drink at all these days life is better for me like that, good infact.....

.. as a response to mental health issues.

Alcohol is a depresent (it slows down or inhibits the functions of the central nervous system) and sustained use increasing the risk of depression. This may seem odd because most of us are familiar it's relaxing effect which makes us feel more sociable.This is apparently due to it first slowing down or inhibiting those functions of the brain associated with inhibition. It then goes on to effect mood, impair cognitive and coordination abilities.

Am never sure about exercise and mental health. Does it have preventative (which is the mental health benefit I gain from cycling) and or curative effects? It can be associated with improved physical health so there is then the association between the sense of physical well-being and mental well-being. There is no harm in giving it a try and if it works for you it works, but when it does I have no idea why its worked.

THE ONLY WAY IS BIKE

posted by lushmiester [156 posts]
6th December 2011 - 21:37

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lushmiester wrote:
lazyusername wrote:
PJ

I don't drink at all these days life is better for me like that, good infact.....

.. as a response to mental health issues.

Yes!

posted by lazyusername [140 posts]
7th December 2011 - 5:05

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I'd say physical exercise in general provides an effective counter measure to depression and lethargy. I do regular gym sessions, mixed with running, some football and a lot of cycling. It makes the difference for me. As others have pointed out, alcohol is only a short term measure and has other effects that can be totally counter-productive.

I did suffer long term depression in the past and do sympathise with what Obree went through, as well as respecting his courage in speaking out. I do wonder if Speed's problems were linked, at least in part, to his having stopped training so intensively. The endorphins that a hard training session will generate in the system are addictive.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2288 posts]
7th December 2011 - 9:03

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I find that I am almost so "dependant" on cycling to keep my mood and motivation for life up, that when a motorist harasses me on the road, it really cuts to the quick. It really, really upsets me. And I know it shouldn't. It feels like they really do know how important cycling is to me and what good it has done for me, and that they are just jealous and want to spoil it all.

Does anyone know what I mean?

posted by wyadvd [123 posts]
8th December 2011 - 20:48

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There are a number of strands to this thread.

I wholeheartedly agree that cycling has a really positive effect on my physical and mental wellbeing. Like many who have posted in this thread I have had tough times where the fresh air and exercise has helped my sanity.

Secondarily, as recent events in sport have shown us, sometimes that isn't enough. Even with a good atmosphere in a team and club, people can feel lonely and low.

Gary Speed is of course the topical example. Rugby league is another sport to have had its issues and they dedicated a whole round of their seasons matches to players mental well being... Pretty ground breaking.

http://www.superleaguefans.com/rugby-league/2011/09/09/state-of-mind-rug...

jimmythecuckoo's picture

posted by jimmythecuckoo [1291 posts]
9th December 2011 - 10:01

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Thanks lazyusername a great topic, I've never been diagnosed as depressed, mainly because I've never gone near any health professionals when I have felt that low! but I totally agree that cycling does help, in some ways just the getting a bit of peace and quiet alone on some country roads for a few hours is a godsend, to clear the head and to have to concentrate on something is great therapy!

andybnk's picture

posted by andybnk [94 posts]
11th December 2011 - 19:41

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This is lovely to see, you fellas talking openly about this. A lot won't speak of it, part of why depression is such a problem. It's very common, I suffered short term depression twice after childbirth and my GP said that medication should be in the water supply! I think he was just highlighting how common it is. Personally I think that exercise especially something like cycling, because you grow to love it, has massive benefits and can keep you mentally and physically healthy. It's certainly changed me in a lot of ways, not least of all my waistline Big Grin

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posted by shollin [51 posts]
12th December 2011 - 16:46

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Admirable thread this. As I posted in the bike forum, cycling has helped me through a tough year.

posted by Super Domestique [1639 posts]
12th December 2011 - 17:26

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Rugby league taking the issue seriously is fantastic, there has also been a fair amount of discussion of the subject in Cricket over the past year following big names talking about there experiences.

Probably repeating myself here but I have had a week where I could only do some indoor rowing, not the same. A couple of outdoor spins have an incomparable effect. I reckon it's something to do with the repetitive rhythm and of course the pain and the knowledge you can't stop (unless there's cake). Actually that's prob rubbish works for me though Big Grin

wyadvd I find swearing is of great help with inconsiderate drivers. That said I was having a near miss pretty much once a week for the month of October I'm now fully Hi-Vised up and much safer

Toodle pip

posted by lazyusername [140 posts]
12th December 2011 - 18:38

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lazyusername wrote:
Rugby league taking the issue seriously is fantastic, there has also been a fair amount of discussion of the subject in Cricket over the past year following big names talking about there experiences.

Probably repeating myself here but I have had a week where I could only do some indoor rowing, not the same. A couple of outdoor spins have an incomparable effect. I reckon it's something to do with the repetitive rhythm and of course the pain and the knowledge you can't stop (unless there's cake). Actually that's prob rubbish works for me though Big Grin

wyadvd I find swearing is of great help with inconsiderate drivers. That said I was having a near miss pretty much once a week for the month of October I'm now fully Hi-Vised up and much safer

Toodle pip

yeah it wasnt so much the dangerous incidents per se, but the times when motorists verbally abuse or physically bully via the actual way they choose to drive around cyclists (in a way they wouldnt behave around any other road user). I dont know if they realise it, but because cycling is such an important part of who I am now, and keeps me sane in some sense, it hurts me more than it annoys me if you get my drift.

posted by wyadvd [123 posts]
13th December 2011 - 18:38

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Sorry wyadvd I do know what you mean, I suppose the vast majority of of motorists are driving round in their own little bubbles and pretty detached from the consequences of inconsiderate/aggressive driving.

I don't know whether you have had a look at defensive/aggressive (it's the same thing) cycling and your positioning on the road, worth a google. Mind you I do live out in the sticks and others might have better advise on city riding - I'm assuming that's where you're based

posted by lazyusername [140 posts]
13th December 2011 - 20:11

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Please look at our site www.vulpine.cc and look up safety & health blogs. In particular one by Louise from Patisserrie Cyclisme. (I would post link, but just fiddling with URLs at the moment!)

www.vulpine.cc
@aslongasicycle
@vulpinecc

aslongasicycle's picture

posted by aslongasicycle [325 posts]
19th December 2011 - 17:14

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I get seasonal winter blues (SADD).

Without riding/jogging on a weekend in
the daylight then I'm doomed and eat
junk.

It's been tough but riding has helped!

Stay positive, eat well and ride!

Smile

I like my bike but it needs a hidden 25cc motor Smile

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posted by Fish_n_Chips [325 posts]
19th December 2011 - 17:44

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www.vulpine.cc
@aslongasicycle
@vulpinecc

aslongasicycle's picture

posted by aslongasicycle [325 posts]
19th December 2011 - 18:42

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Ive had depression on and off now for about 5 or 6 years and seriously would not wish it on anyone. Felt better this year and stopped the medication. Then a few months ago Bang, back down again. Cycling has been a great help, and im back on the meds so hoping to get back to my normal self and enjoy life again.

AM

posted by AaronM [4 posts]
3rd January 2012 - 13:08

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I don't think I suffer from depression in the way some describe here, but I know that I wouldn't cope as easily with the things that trouble me without the ability to get on my bike and just ride. Was thinking a few days ago that despite all the dreadful things that have been thrown at me and my family in the last couple of years, riding provides me with an escape where I can turn everything else off and I get back feeling great and can honestly say that those things that worry and pressurise me during the rest of the day simply disappear for a while.

posted by Chrisc [144 posts]
4th January 2012 - 22:48

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I wholeheartidly agree of the benefits of cycling or any excersise on your mental wellbeing. If anyone is on medication or thinking of coming off I would suggest very gentle tapering and consulting your doctor regularly. I was on Paroxetine for several years and had to reduce over a couple of months, side effects were bloody awfull. My doctor said she did not prescribe it any more for those reasons. I threw myself into gym work this winter and has helped a lot, will also give me a core level of fitness for when the weather picks up and bike gets dusted off again. As an asthmatic it gets a bit cold here for too much winter cycling!

posted by johnboymitchell [10 posts]
7th January 2012 - 10:04

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Depression in sport appears to be getting a lot of press coverage at present the latest offering is Freddie Flintoff: Hidden Side Of Sport airing on BBC1 on January 11 at 10.45pm it will investigate the mental health problems experienced/suffered by top athletes. Sadly this is probably due to recent high profile suicides in sport such as Gary Speed.

Obviously I have not seen the program and it may not cover the mental health benefits that people can gain from physical activity such as cycling, so honestly written about by the many contributors above. However, it may contribute to removing the social stigma and sense of isolation often experienced by those with depression.

I hope it does not leave the public with the impression that involvement in sport increases the risk of experiencing depression or any other mental illness.

Anyway I'll be watching if only because it will no doubt crop up in conversations on Tuesday morning.

THE ONLY WAY IS BIKE

posted by lushmiester [156 posts]
9th January 2012 - 13:51

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