Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Running for Mental Health

Around a month ago I started feeling mildly manic (hypomanic). Before that, I hadn't had a hypomanic episode since August. That episode was very short and pretty mild, and a medication change knocked it out quickly.

However, the medication change—an increase in a drug for mania—left me exhausted in the mornings and made it hard to get out of bed. Eventually I was able to decrease the medication, and things were going well (though the exhaustion stayed) until I flew out to Washington D.C. for my late uncle's memorial service. It was a late flight and I didn't get great sleep the two nights I was there. After I got back from the trip, I started feeling hypomanic for a couple days.

Then, I moved into a mixed state. A mixed state is where symptoms of both mania and depression are present at the same time or close to each other. For me that meant feelings of extra energy, restlessness, and anxiety on some days or parts of days, and lethargy, sadness, and regretful feelings the rest of the time.

Though the mixed state wasn't unmanageable, it did make things difficult. Everything from chores to going for a run felt like a huge effort when I was depressed, and when I was hypomanic, I could hardly sit still.

I've been feeling much better now besides still being exhausted in the morning, and one big factor has been running. About three days into my mixed state episode, I was sitting in my recliner, trying to decide to go for a run. I was feeling depressed, and the effort of a going for a run seemed insurmountable.

But, I decided to force myself out of my comfy chair and get going. I told myself I'd run thirty minutes—a simple out-and-back. It was shorter than I usually run, but it seemed manageable.

As I approached the fifteen minute mark, I discovered something—I was feeling better. My motivation was higher, I wasn't feeling lethargic, and I was enjoying myself. So, I decided I'd run for forty minutes rather than thirty.

The mood-boosting effect didn't stop after my run. I felt better the rest of the day, and the day after I did a fifteen mile run.

The boost I get from running doesn't happen all the time, and it doesn't always last for an entire day or more, but in this case forcing myself to run was worth it for the mood boost, even though it wasn’t not a permanent solution to a mixed state.

Last December I had a manic cycle that lasted a couple weeks, and this year it was only hypomania followed by a mixed state, and the duration was shorter. Though I'm still experiencing some depression, I'm feeling much better and have been able to decrease a medication after a visit with my nurse practitioner.

On a later post, I'll write about some information about exercise and depression.

Thanks for reading.

No comments: