How to cope with post-marathon depression?

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Page last updated: 18/10/2022

How to cope with post-marathon depression?

This post answers: How to cope with post-marathon depression? What is post-marathon Blues? Why do individuals run marathons? What is depression? What are the symptoms of depression?  What are the causes of depression? What are the treatment options for depression?

How to cope with post-marathon depression?

Some ways to cope with post-marathon depression are:

Maintain your routine

Often individuals experience post-marathon depression due to a lack of routine that emerges after the race is over. The routine usually contains early morning workouts, new goals, new distances, and new challenges.

After the race when this routine subsides individuals feel a sense of emptiness leading to them feeling low and sad in such situations individuals must try and maintain their routine even after the race with a reduction in intensity and then gradually can get off it if required.

Try something new

Individuals who participate in the marathon have set routines such as their workout plans, achieving set distances, carrying out a particular diet. After the race when there is a change in routine individuals lose a sense of novelty which can cause them a sense of depression.

However, individuals must find new ways to add on to their novelty after their race. This could involve exploring new running tracks, various forms of exercises, or even practicing with a peer.

Try using your comfort food

Many researchers and individuals report that every person has comfort food that makes them feel better and enhances their mood. Individuals can rely on their comfort food on days that they are feeling miserable or depressed after their marathon.

However, individuals must understand the difference between relying on comfort food for a sense of enhancement and also avoiding emotional eating which could have a negative effect on an individual.

Hence individuals can rely on their comfort food with a sense of balance and also keep in mind the necessities of their body in terms of the various micronutrients.

How to cope with post-marathon depression?

Volunteer

Individuals who experience a sense of depression after their marathon can also volunteer in various race-related campaigns or events such as short runs, or local races in a way that helps them feel connected to individuals belonging to a like-minded community.

This helps individuals to enhance their mood and also make them idols to other individuals seeking their goals and passions.

Explore other hobbies

When individuals feel depressed post-marathon they can try and explore the other areas of interest and hobbies that they enjoy equally. This helps them to identify the various fields they hold an interest in and also open up different ways of engagement for them

Take a break

People who experience post-marathon depression must take a break in terms of a weekend getaway or a short trip. This helps individuals clear off their minds and get over the initial marathon Blues. It also helps individuals identify and acknowledge that Indulging in other activities can make them feel better and also give them a medium of engagement.

Share how you feel

Often individuals might feel worse post-marathon due to the emotional baggage that they carry with them without sharing their feelings with anyone. It is important that individuals who feel low and sad express their emotions to their close ones such as friends and family.

In cases where individuals find it difficult to verbally express their emotions with another, they can also consider writing down how they feel in a journal which helps them reflect on their feelings and manage their way through it.

What is post-marathon Blues?

Post marathon Blues refers to a sense of low mood and letdown that individuals experience after accomplishing their goals at the race after preparing for it for several months. 

Individuals who experience post-race depression or post-race Blues might experience a loss of pleasure, motivation to run, disappointment, and a lack of socialization after the race.

Why do individuals run marathons?

Reasons for running marathons can vary among individuals some of the reasons can be:

  • To test one’s endurance
  • To increase awareness about a social issue
  • To maintain a healthy lifestyle
  • To reduce the level of stress
  • To get connected to like-minded people

What is depression?

Depression is one of the most common serious mental health conditions that negatively impact how an individual feels and thinks.

Depression is associated with feelings of sadness, a loss of interest in daily activities, and drastic changes in the energy level and the daily routines of an individual.

Depression in itself can lead to other physical and emotional problems which can be detrimental to a person’s functioning.

The symptoms of depression can vary from individual to individual from mild to severe depending on various factors.

Studies indicate that depression affects about 15% of adults every year and one in every six people experience depression at some time in their life.

Although depression can occur at any age it is more common among teenagers and early adults. Research indicates that women are more vulnerable to depression than men.

What are the symptoms of depression?

The characteristic symptoms of depression are:

  • Feelings of sadness or depressed mood
  • Loss of interest in activities enjoyed in the past
  • Changes in appetite leading to weight gain or weight loss
  • Changes in sleep patterns with very little sleep or long hours of sleep
  • Decrease in the level of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Feeling guilty
  • Difficulty thinking and concentrating
  • In severe cases thoughts of death or suicide

Symptoms of depression must last up to two weeks and cause significant impairment in an individual’s daily functioning to meet the diagnosis of depression.

 What are the causes of depression?

Depression can be caused due to several factors such as:

Age

Age might be an important factor in understanding the severity of depression in people. Reports indicate that elderly people are at higher risk of depression than the.

Conflict

Another very common reason for individuals to experience depression is a conflict that can be internal or external. Many individuals are biologically vulnerable to high levels of conflict falling prey to depression more easily.

Major life events

Many individuals might also experience depression due to major life events such as the death or loss of something very personal.

Gender

Reports indicate that women are more likely you get depressed the reason for this is not explained in much detail but it is believed that the hormonal changes that women experience might contribute to their higher likelihood of experiencing depression.

Medications

Certain over-the-counter medications might also lead to depression in many individuals such as isotretinoin interferon-alpha and corticosteroids.

Serious illnesses

In many cases, depression occurs as a comorbid condition with other illnesses that individuals are experiencing be it physical psychological.

Substance misuse

It is found that about 30% of individuals with drug abuse and misuse are diagnosed with clinical depression.

Genes

Individuals who have a history of depression in their family are more likely to experience depression than those who do not. This indicates that depression can be genetic to some extent like many other I kept disorders.

What are the treatment options for depression?

Depression though widespread is one of the most treatable mental illnesses. About 90% of people with depression respond well to treatment.

Some possible treatment options for depression are

Medication

Antidepressants are very commonly prescribed by doctors to individuals with depression. These medications are not sedatives or tranquilizers. They generally do not have any stimulating effects on people who do not experience depression.

Antidepressants usually show their effects within a few weeks. However, in cases where patients do not see any improvement after several weeks, they can alter their doses based on the suggestions provided by their health care practitioners.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is also called talk therapy. It is used as a single mode of treatment for mild depression or for moderate to severe depression along with antidepressants.

Psychotherapy might involve the individual alone or other related individuals for instance the family of the concerned person.

Depending on the severity of depression psychotherapy might take a few weeks or much longer for significant improvement

Cognitive-behavioral therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy where the therapist actively focuses on problem-solving. This is done by helping individuals replace their negative thoughts with more positive ones.

Electroconvulsive therapy

Electroconvulsive therapy is a treatment model that is commonly used for patients with severe and major depression who usually do not respond to other lines of treatment.

It involves brief electrical stimulation of the brain while the patient is under anesthesia.

Patients receive electroconvulsive therapy two or three times a week for a total of 6 to 12 sessions.

Self-help and coping strategies

Apart from therapy and medicine individuals can also carry out some self-help coping strategies such as carrying out regular exercises, getting sufficient sleep, indulging in pleasurable activities, maintaining a healthy diet, and avoiding alcohol to reduce their symptoms of depression

Conclusion

Experiencing post-marathon depression can be very natural due to the amount of effort that individuals put in to achieve their goals and the routine that they follow for long periods. 

In such cases, individuals must try and identify various other mediums that they hold the relevant skillset for and also explore various areas that give them an equal amount of joy.

 In severe cases when post-marathon depression is impacting their functioning individuals can consider seeing a therapist who helps them identify and regulate their emotions effectively.

Frequently asked questions: How to cope with post-marathon depression?

What is post-race depression?

Post-race depression refers to the feelings of sadness after the race is over. It is mostly reported by many runners and is a type of situational depression.

Why do people collapse after a marathon?

Many individuals might collapse after a marathon due to various reasons such as a heart stroke, cardiac arrest, hyperglycemia, brain hemorrhage diabetic coma, and seizures.

What should individuals do a week after a marathon?

After a marathon individuals can consider carrying out recovery activities and workouts such as cycling, swimming, and walking for about 30 minutes three to four times a week.

Are marathon runners unhealthy?

Research indicates that the training that goes into a marathon might have negative effects on individual heart health and lead to higher levels of cortisol levels, weight gain, decreased immune function, and fatigue.

Why do runners look so old?

Researchers indicate that many runners look older due to the negative impacts of excessive running which causes their face to sag.

Citations

https://www.runnersworld.com/runners-stories/a20804968/the-postrace-blues/#:~:text=Post%2Drace%20depression%20signs%20include,if%20you%20hit%20your%20goal.

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression