Feeling Post-Workout Depression? Know The Causes And How to Cope

There’s no denying the fact that exercising can help boost your mood and improve your mental health. But, while exercise for some people might be beneficial, for others, it can have the opposite of a calming and relaxing reaction. The sadness you experience after exercising or working out can be termed “post-workout depression”.

You must be thinking, How can working out be the cause of my depression? but, it can be true. Post-workout depression is a phenomenon where you feel a sense of sadness, anxiety, and depression after finishing your exercise routines.

This article talks about the symptoms and reasons of post-workout depression, and how you can overcome and manage depression after exercising.

What is Post-Workout Depression?

Feeling depressed after working out can feel like an emotional downshift of sadness. Unlike the endorphin high that many people feel after exercising, some people experience feelings of sadness. These feelings can either occur immediately after working out or can manifest after hours of exercising. They can last from a few hours to a couple of days.

Symptoms of post-workout sadness and depression can vary from person to person, but they can include feelings such as;

Sadness or emptiness
Exhaustion – physical and mental
Low energy
Trouble concentrating
Changes in sleep and appetite

What Causes Post-Workout Depression?

If we talk about why you feel depressed after working out, several factors could contribute to it;

1. Physical Exhaustion

One of the most common causes of post-workout depression could be exhaustion. When you work out for long periods, you can deplete your body’s energy, causing physical fatigue and irritability. If you’re physically too drained, then it can also affect your mental state, leading to feelings of depression. Another word for workout exhaustion could be “overtraining”.

When you challenge your body to a goal and focus on that, regardless of your body’s limitations, it can be termed overtraining. Some signs of overtraining to watch out can include;

Muscle tension
Brain fog
Lack of energy
No motivation
Feeling hopeless
Feeling sad

2. Hormonal Imbalance

Another reason for your post-workout blues could be hormonal imbalances. Exercising regulates chemicals such as cortisol, endorphins, serotonin, and more. While endorphins can help boost your mood, the fluctuation in other hormones can cause an imbalance in your brain.

For instance, if cortisol levels are high, then the positive effects of endorphins can dull, causing feelings of anxiety, stress, and even depression. Moreover, intense workout sessions can cause a depletion of chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine — our body’s feel-good hormones.

3. Increased Levels of Stress

I work out when I’m too stressed, but in some cases, too much stress resulting in intense workout sessions can worsen your mood. Our bodies have limited energy resources, so the more you push yourself to exhaust your energy, the more time it’ll take to replenish those resources, causing you to feel depressed.

Living with chronic stress can increase your risk of depression and can worsen symptoms such as sleep issues, fatigue, sadness, and irritation.

4. Poor Diet

Yes, a poor diet is another reason you may feel depressed after working out. Exercising increases your body’s demand for nutrition. If you can’t feed your body the desired nutrients, then it can impact your physical and mental health. Low levels of vitamins, magnesium, and omega-3 can all cause mood disorders.

If you exercise, then you need to pay attention to what you eat after working out. Eating the wrong thing can worsen your depression symptoms. Make sure you eat a well-balanced diet and avoid heavy and processed meals after workouts. Try to add more carbohydrates, protein, and natural fats to your diet.

5. Having Unrealistic Goals

Another factor that might be contributing to your post-workout depression could be the unrealistic goals you’ve set for yourself. We all have goals, and it’s good to have them, but make sure the goals are realistic and achievable. If your primary goal for a workout is to lose weight quickly but can’t see immediate results, then you’re bound to become depressed and discouraged.

To avoid this, try to set realistic and achievable goals. Start with small ones and move to big ones as you complete them. Keep in mind that achieving any goal takes time and patience. You can’t expect to see immediate results.

6. Co-occurring Mental Health Conditions

If you’re still experiencing post-workout depression even after adjusting your routine, then the reason behind your sadness could be other mental health conditions. Before you rush to any conclusion, keep in mind that depression symptoms can take two or more weeks to be diagnosed.

If you’re experiencing depression symptoms even after two weeks or more, then it’s recommended you speak to a professional for a diagnosis.

Some common co-occurring mental health conditions that can cause post-workout depression include;

Mood disorders
Persistent depressive disorder
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
Perinatal depression

Coping With Post-Workout Blues

While I understand that post-workout depression can be discouraging, you can learn to cope and manage the feelings with these simple strategies;

1. Adjust your routine

Try to add more moderate-intensity exercises to your workout routine instead of high-intensity ones. Moderate and low-intensity exercises are less likely to leave you feeling exhausted. You can also add a variety of exercises to prevent workout burnout and overtraining. After all this, allow yourself to rest and recover — physically and mentally — before starting again.

2. Eat well

Make sure you eat a well-balanced diet with foods rich in proteins, vitamins, and minerals such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Before, during, and after working out, keep yourself hydrated. You need water to maintain hydration and mental clarity. Also, focus on post-workout meals and ensure that they include lean proteins and carbohydrates.

3. Manage stress levels

Practice stress management techniques to avoid feeling stressed pre-and post-workout. Techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can help. Also, make sure you get enough sleep throughout the night as it’s important for rest and recovery, and to maintain a stable mood.

4. Keep your goals realistic

Set specific goals that are realistic and achievable. This will help you avoid overexerting yourself and trying to reach goals that can’t be realistically achieved. Along with this, make sure you recognize and celebrate progress, even if it’s small. This will boost your confidence and motivation.

5. Seek professional help

If you’re experiencing post-workout depression symptoms even after adjusting your routine and lifestyle, then you can consider seeking professional help. A therapist can help you understand the causes of your depression and help you find the right strategies to manage the symptoms. Sometimes, medical conditions such as PCOS and other issues can contribute to symptoms of depression.

Wrapping Up…

Post-workout depression is a complicated, but real condition physical, hormonal, and mental factors can cause. Knowing what causes post-workout sadness can help you incorporate strategies to counter the symptoms, and enjoy the benefits of exercising without the additional burden.

Listen to your body’s needs, take care of yourself, and seek help when you need it. With the right help and approach, you can convert your workout routine into a fun experience that boosts your well-being, instead of causing you distress.

I hope this article helped you! Let me know what you do when you feel depressed after working out in the comments below.

Take Care!

The post Feeling Post-Workout Depression? Know The Causes And How to Cope appeared first on Calm Sage – Your Guide to Mental and Emotional Well-being.

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