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Running and Depression

When running become an addition and we hide our depression with running

How running and depression are related.

Let me share my story

Depression  it’s like divorce we think that will never happen to “us”. That happens to other people, not you. Until it happens.

 It happened to me. An intelligent, well-educated with two career degrees, 3 spoken languages, highly positive and motivated all the time. Living a healthy lifestyle, training, and running religiously. 

I am sharing my story because is VERY COMMON amongst athletes and runners. Among  high performance people.

 I had a very intimate relationship with depression. Or use to have.

 An untreated  PPD, postpartum depression leaded me to PDD, persistent depressive disorder.

 I did not know I had it. My husband at that time did not figure it out. Nobody did. Never, ever crossed my mind, 

And that was the problem. Ignorance. I was not educated in recognizing the symptoms. I did not know how to “feel” and recognize my “emotions” and deal with them. I didn’t know what was normal or not. 

I was working, training for marathons, as high energy as ever. Competitive in all aspects  and yet I had it. I discovered it until I reach rock bottom.

The reality is that I was burying my problems in exercise and motherhood and over-functioning all the time.

My hormones went crazy when my son was born. But I thought that the overwhelming feeling, the stress, the anxiety, the mood changing, the tiredness was normal for a newbie mom in her twenties. I was so young. 


It started slow. And with persistence. I was not tired or moody all the time. Came in waves. So, I thought was normal. I could be perfect happily for 3 months and then something exploded, and I feel unmotivated and sad. I felt like crying but never understand why. So, I ignored it.  

I could run, work, but the natural sleep at night never came. I had trouble getting to sleep. Yet the next morning I was ready to be superwomen again. 


Then the mood change became more frequent. Insomnia became chronic. I lost my libido. And I get hyper-focused on my son and job and running. Because that was what I could control. 

As women, we tend to believe that an exhausted mother that it´s not in the mood is normal. Yes, it is. For some time.


But if your normal sex drive did not come naturally after maybe 6 months or a year has passed and you still not “feeling it” as before. Well, your hormones are not normal. 

When we decide to get a divorce, I reach rock bottom. 


The insomnia was permanent, then came the panic attacks, anxiety, crying all the time, and I could not simply be focused on anything. 


I was alone. As I do not have family, my husband and my son were my only close family. So, I had to pass through this by myself. 

I had the great fortune to find an amazing Psychiatric. But not on the first try. 


As obsessive for knowledge as I am, I need to learn everything about Depression. So, I bought books, research on the internet, and talk with friends.

In the beginning, I thought that divorce causes depression. That was normal, right? But after treatment, I learned that I have been depressed for more than 5 years, without me noticing it. 


The first doctor that I went to prescribed me Prozac. It was horrible. I could not feel anything, I felt like a zombie. Nub all the time. But on the other side of the coin, I felt so much pain that I could not handle it. 


That is when I find the doctor that changes my life. We talk, he try and find the correct medicine and dose for me. And my life changed.

I felt joy , happiness and clarity as never before . I was able to sleep healthy for the first time in years.  But it cost me tears. Lots off them, because I had to work and acknowledge things in my life that I have never acknowledged before.


Therapy, Medication , healthy diet and exercise change my life in 6 months.  It wasn’t a short journey. Self awareness and growth takes a lifetime and never ends.   But now I know better.

Running alone never helped me. Just mask an delay the symptoms 

Now, I can recognized when things are getting out of control. And I am able to take measures to not get in to chronic  depression again.

As soon I realize what happened to me for like 6 years of my life – I became an advocate of mental health education.

It happens to BOTH GENDERS.

The difference is that we respond differently. Some women get sad or mad, find comfort in food or TV – you get addicted to your job and running and get closed. Each person has different reactions. Each gender has different reactions. 

Extremes are never healthy. It´s about DENIAL.

We need to understand this as recreational runners or competitive athletes, EXERCISE ITS A STRESS RELIEVER, not a DEPRESSION CURE.


The majority of the studies on depression and aerobic exercise in the last 20 years were. 

conducted had huge gaps as many recruited people via media, newspaper, agencies, etc. but the majority of the participant was not clinically diagnosed. 

Many of the trials have this common statement:

  • “Exercise was beneficial for depression compared with no treatment” (Yes, kind of obvious)
  • “The results from the present study suggest that adults and youth with complex mood disorders can benefit from a running therapy programmed that is supervised by clinical professionals in a group setting that offers social support.”

Many of those studies use running or aerobic exercise as a complement, along with medical treatment or group therapy. 

But the reality is the majority of depressed people do not seek treatment. We think that IT WILL PASS. It´s not

 IT GET WORST with time 

Most studies exclude complex and/or treatment-resistant populations and do not investigate the impact of other contributing factors such as programmed adherence or perceived social support in group or supervised settings.

Accordingly, there are knowledge gaps on exercise as a potential therapeutic option for individuals with mood disorders, especially complex forms with co-morbid diagnoses and poor response to treatment.


Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act.

Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease your ability to function at work and home.


  • Situational’ Depression is the most common This isn’t a technical term in psychiatry. But you can have a depressed mood when you’re having trouble managing a stressful event in your life, such as a death in your family, a divorce, or losing your job. Your doctor may call this “stress response syndrome.
  • Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)
  • Bipolar Disorder.
  • Postpartum Depression (PPD)
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
  • Atypical Depression


  • Change in your appetite (not eating enough or overeating)
  • Sleep too much or too little.
  • Lack of energy, or fatigue
  • Low self-esteem
  • Trouble concentrating or making decisions.
  • Feel hopeless.
  • Getting mad or irritable almost every day

The lightest and common is Situational depression. That happens because we faced death, a job loss, a divorce. In a few words LIFE-CHANGING MAJOR EVENT.  

You should feel sad because you broke with your 4 months boyfriend. Not depressed.

The depressed feeling gets better as days passed, and we passed by each grieving stage.

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

If we get STOCKED in one of the first 4 stages, depression can occur.

Two common depression are that we need to be aware of it


As our hormones went crazy and our body is not able to bring them to normal levels. Here we need to have a hormonal screen test after 6 months post-partum and one year later to be on the safe side.

Atypical Depression

That gets UNDETECTED SO MANY TIMES because your depressed mood can bright in response to positive events. , Other symptoms include increased appetite, sleeping too much, feeling your arms and legs heavy, and feelings of rejections


  • It is not normal not to be able to sleep for more than 15 days.
  • It is not normal to have mood changes every day.
  • It not normal to get into a discussion or fight every other day or even once a week.
  • It is not normal to want to cry or disappear without knowing why.
  • It is not normal to feel overwhelms for no reason.
  • It’s not normal to get anxious about small things.


One of the common hidden symptoms in runners it´s an over-obsessed and fixation with running or exercise in general.

Even when we do not depend on our performance to make money or put food on the table yet.

We put running over.

  • Family
  • Work
  • Personal relationships
  • Health
  • Injuries
  1. When the ONLY source of joy, pride, and identity is exercise or running. that it´s a WARNING SIGN
  2. Our identity it´s based only on running.
  3. We start to feel anxious if we can not run for more than 3 days.
  4. We “HAVE TO” run that marathon, even when we didn’t train for it or are injured
  5. We run away from our problems and focus on running only.
  6. Our main conversation topic it´s running
  7. We became irritable and inflexible in our relationships.
  8. We neglect jobs or relationships for running.  
  9. Know that you know better, do not take these symptoms lightly, and look for health

Do not let depression robes you the best years of your life.  Seek for PROFESIONAL HELP.

Remember Running and Depression is real 

My big lesson is that DEPRESSION IS REAL , COMMON AND SERIOUS.   Doesn’t  matter if you believe in traditional medicine, natural remedies , etc. You can not rely  only in medicine- either type, you need to adjust your lifestyle and work on your mind. too .  If not, it will come to hunt you again and again

Here are some depression resources and links

Thanks for reading.  Help me spread the joy and wisdom if you like it , please share, comment and subscribe¡.

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