Martial Artists with Depression

How do you handle depression?

  • Martial art training

  • Light therapy

  • Antidepressants (Prozac, Zoloft, etc.)

  • Herbs/aminoacids/minerals (St. John's Wort, Rhodiola Rosea, 5-HTP, Sam-E, etc.)

  • Counseling/therapy

  • Combination of two or more of the above

  • Other (not mentioned abouve)


Results are only viewable after voting.

Ceicei

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I am of the opinion that training, in general, tends to be mentally and psychologically uplifting for most martial artists. I have quite a few friends (non-martial artists) who suffer from depression and use antidepressants or herbs to help reduce the symptoms of depression. I haven't met very many martial artists challenged with depression. (Maybe they don't talk about this?) I'm only aware of a few who I can count on one hand.

As far as I know, there are a few types of depression ranging from Dysthemia, Adjustment-Depression, Bipolar Depression, and Major Depression.

For those who are martial artists with depression, how do you handle your depression? Do you feel training is sufficient? Do you use light therapy? Use antidepressants? Counseling? Herbs, minerals, and/or aminoacids (such as St. John's Wort, 5-HTP, Rhodiola Rosea, SAM-e, etc.)? Other?

This may be an issue that needs to be brought out in the open. I am creating a poll. Since this may be a sensitive topic for some who may be facing this challenge, comments aren't required.

- Ceicei
 

JasonASmith

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I'll step up to the plate here...
A majority of my family(on both sides) suffer from this hell...
All of the men on my father's side go through "black" moods on a regular basis throughout the course of our lives...Most of the time, this affliction is dealt with by consumption of large quantities of alcohol, and I have been no exception to that rule in the past...
My saving grace has been the birth and lives of my children, so I literally am addicted to my family...That's a precarious position to hold, and I know it, but it's better than being a drunk...I have found that regular and consistent exercise "evens" me out, and I don't suffer as often, however it never goes away...I look at it this way: You can either embrace your misery( and it's had my company often), or you can use it for all its worth...Some of the most productive times in my life have been the times when I have felt the worst...
 

Xue Sheng

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I do not suffer depression but many years back going through a divorce I guess you could say I was depressed and I found training helped.

And according to a friend of mine that is a psychologist just about any regular exercise would help to varying degrees depending on how depressed someone was.
 

exile

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You soldier on and get your work done. The universe doesn't care if you're depressed or not. Work, activity and creativity... that's about the best you can do in the end, I think...
 

Kacey

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I don't know if I was clinically depressed, in terms of being diagnosable - but I will say that no matter how bad my day is, personally, professionally, from events of the day, etc., going to TKD and either training or teaching will always bring me out of it, at least for the duration of class. Sometimes the bad mood will come back after the class is over, but always lessened because I was concentrating on something else instead.

Some of this is, I think, due to years of practice at shutting off all outside concerns during class. TKD has always, for me, been a time set apart, a time when I leave the concerns of the day outside the room. Even when I got divorced - and my ex and I were in the same class before the divorce; after, he quit and moved home to his mother... at 40... - going to class even in the room we'd trained in together would improve my mood. Some of this was the support of the other students and my sahbum (my ex was universally disliked for his belief that he was better than he was and because he tended to hit others harder than he would put up with being hit - especially women - and he was only put up with, I found out later, because my sahbum refused to kick him out and make me choose between the class and the marriage); some was because that was my escape from the day.

The physical movement is part of it, I think, because people who are active are less likely to become depressed; the mindset that occurs in many classes of shutting out the day and outside concerns to focus on the training helps people set aside their emotions while training. Also, people who are depressed often shut themselves off from the people and activities around them - so people who are significantly depressed who have been in a martial art may also stop coming to class - but the ones who continue to come gain support, activity, and time away from their concerns, which helps lift the depression if it is there. The question is, is this specific to martial arts, or general to regular exercise in a supportive setting? Is there a specific benefit to martial arts that other activities cannot, or do not, have? I'm not really sure there's a good way to find out - there are too many variables.
 

Carol

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The question is, is this specific to martial arts, or general to regular exercise in a supportive setting? Is there a specific benefit to martial arts that other activities cannot, or do not, have? I'm not really sure there's a good way to find out - there are too many variables.

It's a beneft in general to regular exercise in a supportive setting. Exercise encourages the production neurotransmitters in the brain, esp. dopamine. The benefit helps a variety of psychiatric and neurological issues.

It's important to note that treating depression may not be a do-it-yourself matter. The brain is the most complex organ in the body. Depression may an issue, or it may be a symptom of an unrelated issue. Take care of your health and it will take care of you. :)
 

gardawamtu

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I've suffered from depression in the past and found that a combination of exercise, medication, and therapy was the most helpful. Medication is extremely important for some, but you have to avoid the temptation of thinking medication alone can solve the problems. In the end, I think therapy and plugging into a good supportive community provide the most benefits. A holistic approach works best.

That said, when I find myself exercising and practicing MA more, I am less inclined to be depressed.
 

Kembudo-Kai Kempoka

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I've wrestled with depression since I was a teenager, with some pretty miserable episodes lasting more than a year at a turn. Even on my good days, I still deal with a diagnosable chronic, low-grade depression.

The absolute, all-encompassing hopelessness is miserable, and I would never wish it on my worst enemy...and I have a few from my past that I might be willing to go to prison in exchange of taking them out of the gene pool. Still, I would never wish on them the blackness of the big D.

For me, I've just surrendered to the idea that there will be times in my life that I just have to weather. Meds haven't done it, and I've been on most of them at some time or another. Natural remedies and therapy haven't done it. The only thing that's helped is knowing, "this, too, shall pass", and to "keep on keeping on" until the mental sun comes out again. I've learned from experience that if I just keep showing up, no matter how lousy I feel, that I will eventually stop feeling so lousy. At least until the next time.

Best Regards,

Dave
 

tellner

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Exercise and activity are helpful. But if you have serious clinical depression they may well not be enough. A fair number of people try to have a positive attitude, get their cardio and soldier on then find out that it doesn't work. And they feel like hopeless failures.

Depression is a potentially life-threatening condition. It's often the result of an organic chemical imbalance in the brain. That sort of thing is best treated by a professional, and nobody should feel guilty or less of him/herself for getting that help.
 

Solidman82

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I can only assume I suffer from depression because my Father, Brother and Sister are all diagnosed and I sometimes go through waves where I feel like crap. But I also take great pride in sucking it up and pretty much forcefully changing my current outlook on things. This of course leads to an emotional breakdown every now and then so I'm sure I'm not handling it the way I probably should be. But I also refuse to just give in and start swallowing pills.
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Jade Tigress

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tellner said:
Exercise and activity are helpful. But if you have serious clinical depression they may well not be enough. A fair number of people try to have a positive attitude, get their cardio and soldier on then find out that it doesn't work. And they feel like hopeless failures.

Depression is a potentially life-threatening condition. It's often the result of an organic chemical imbalance in the brain. That sort of thing is best treated by a professional, and nobody should feel guilty or less of him/herself for getting that help.

This is spot on.

I have been diagnosed with major depression (long term stress can alter chemical functions in the brain). I find that when I am really struggling it is harder to exercise or train. The motivation and/or energy to do so is just not there. I force myself, and I'm always glad I did, but it's not easy and the *lift* that comes from training is short-lived. But it all depends on the severity of the depression and if it's really clinical depression or a stage of *the blues* which is normal for everyone to experience.
 

Tez3

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I'd never suffered from depression until the middle of last year. I'm still not sure I am suffering from it but the doctors say I do, well they say it's post menopausal anxiety and depression. One of them said " it's hormones my dear, nothing you can do, it's not flu you know, I don't believe in giving out HRT" So I was left feeling exhausted and suicidal ( I actually took an overdose but was found and carted off to hospital). I've been off work since then and have been taking supplements and upped my training. I'm going running as well which I didn't do before. I was given medication ( a serotonin uptake thing?) but it seems to do nothing other than make me feel numb which was horrible. After training and running I feel like my old self, the feeling lasts for quite a few hours afterwards, I'm hoping I can maintain the regime I've worked out. It's hard sometimes to actually get out of bed and I've spent days in bed sometimes which I know isn't right.At the moment it's day by day.
 

tellner

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Tez, have you considered shatawari (shatavari, satawari)? It's an Indian herb whose name means "100 husbands". A number of menopausal and perimenopausal women I know swear by it.
 

The Kidd

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Exercise and activity are helpful. But if you have serious clinical depression they may well not be enough. A fair number of people try to have a positive attitude, get their cardio and soldier on then find out that it doesn't work. And they feel like hopeless failures.

Depression is a potentially life-threatening condition. It's often the result of an organic chemical imbalance in the brain. That sort of thing is best treated by a professional, and nobody should feel guilty or less of him/herself for getting that help.


I was going to bring this point up, it depends on the type of Depression you have. Genetic depression which alters your brain chemistry may need to be dealt with medication and combination of therapy, diet, and exercise. Event related depression can be dealt with therapy, exercise, diet, or time. Here medication can be a stop gap until you learn some other coping mechanisms. With genetic depression such as Bipolar Disorder then you will need to take medication your whole life because it has to do with altered brain chemistry.
Exercise is always good whatever it is to increase Dopamin output, provide stress relief, and increase positive self esteem. Just being sad does not constitute being depressed though, when that sadness effects your daily life then we might have a problem. Always seek professional help, you need someone with experience and an objective opinion to help assess the problem.
 

MA-Caver

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I've suffered from depression in the past and found that a combination of exercise, medication, and therapy was the most helpful. Medication is extremely important for some, but you have to avoid the temptation of thinking medication alone can solve the problems. In the end, I think therapy and plugging into a good supportive community provide the most benefits. A holistic approach works best.

That said, when I find myself exercising and practicing MA more, I am less inclined to be depressed.

There's a commercial running around on television now-a-days about how they're finding out that dealing with depression with just drugs alone isn't taking care of the problem.
I've found with my own depression that drugs are not the answer. I adamantly refuse to take any antidepressants for my own personal ethical and principal reasons. I've found that when I start doing things (work, and live life "normally" )that my depression lifts. I've a hard time convincing (some) people of that... namely my immediate family.
Right now I deal with it by distraction. Doing something, ANYTHING is better than sitting around and proverbally moping over one's troubles. Right now doing MA isn't a viable option at this time ($$) but I do other stuff... caving and hanging around MT :D
The drugs out there may help some people. Herbal remedies are probably (IMO) a better method. Getting off your *** is most likely the best. Having a close friend/confidant to talk it out with helps as well. Therapy (not psychology) can go a long way as well.
Do take care of your depression before it takes care of you.
 
G

Gary Crawford

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Please, I don't want to offend anyone,but I agree working out does produce endorphans that do help to some temperary extent,but that actually does little more than drinking your sorrows away,it's just temperary. Depression happens due to real problems that have to be addressed one way or another to really get past it. I have lived with this for several years and I can only tell ya'll what has worked for me(not for everyone until you are ready for it). I decided to turn to my chuch and christiam counsiling. I was amazed. I talked about all my(really serious) burdons I was carrying with me and everything I said was answered in biblical scipture. I was like being hit on the head with a rock! I quit carrying burdons that wern't mine and gave them to God. Some people do well with other types of counsiling,but nothing has helped me more than this.
 

Tez3

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Recently the BBC did a documentary on depression featuring a famous guy over here called Stephen Fry, it was very interesting and shows the sheer agony he went through when depressed.
Yellner, I shall hunt down that herbal remedy thank you, I don't equate my situation with a depressives, my depression came as a shock. I was fine, my children had grown up and leading good lives which at long last left me money to do what I wanted! The housework had diminished too, I was going on holidays abroad, enjoying work and martial arts then bang. When I'm fit and not exhausted I can cope with anything, at my worst I was too tired to even get out of bed. The pyschiatrist I saw in hospital suggested my doctor should do blood tests for thyroid as he considered that it was physical rather than clinical or reactive depression. My doctor brushed it off.
I don't consider being as active as I can just 'drinking my sorrows away', I have few sorrows to drink away, by the nature of my complaint it means at my age I have found myself and have always been happy in my skin. I agree with MA Caver, as the more physical stuff i can do the better I feel. One of the reasons my post count is fairly high despite not being on this forum long is that I've made a point of logging in everyday to stay in contact with people while I've been off work, it's helped enormously to chat, argue and learn so thank you everyone!
 

Carol

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When I'm fit and not exhausted I can cope with anything, at my worst I was too tired to even get out of bed. The pyschiatrist I saw in hospital suggested my doctor should do blood tests for thyroid as he considered that it was physical rather than clinical or reactive depression. My doctor brushed it off.

There is a New England Journal of Medicine study that has been published equating atypical depression in otherwise physically and emotionally thriving people with T3 levels that are in the low side of the normal range that were treated with synthetic T3 instead of psychoactive meds.
 

tellner

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Carol, "equating" is probably a poor choice of words. Lowered T3 and T4 levels may be associated with depression in some people. They are hardly the cause as your statement would suggest. There are many people with normal thyroid function, otherwise excellent health and depression.
 

empty cup

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Actually getting back into martial arts training at middle age was one of the things I have been using to help with my own depression--along with medication. I found my self getting bored silly trying to go to the gym and lift weights. I have found that doing something complex like Martial Art Training keeps me occupied mentally and emotionally enough for a while that helps keep some of the thought patterns that can start to trigger the depression from happening for at least a little while. It's kind of like not giving the depression any space to start.
 

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