Julio Salazar has struggled with depression and anxiety for most of his life. Born in Costa Rica and now living with his wife and children in Minnesota, Julio has courageously worked to overcome these issues with therapy, medication, and, of course, running. Recently he started a project to combat the stigma attached to seeking help for mental illness called Breaking the Stigma. In 2015, Julio plans on running across his state to increase awareness of this problem. In this episode, Julio tells his story. He can be found at Breakthestigmarun.com or Break the Stigma Project on Facebook.
Most of you have experienced in one was or another the effects of premenstrual dysphoric disorder. In today’s episode, we have the opportunity to talk to someone who has been effected by this and hear how running helped in its treatment. We talk today with Robin Simpson of Marathon Makeover to see how it worked.
Most of us have had or know someone who has had a chronic disease like diabetes, cardiovascular disease or hypertension. In today’s episode, I interview Dr. Rick Guynes, a board certified cardiologist, and Dr. Ed Daly, a board certified internal medicine specialist, on the use of running and other lifestyle changes in the treatment of these diseases and their mental health correlates. Both of these physicians are highly respected practitioners in our area and are very experienced runners.Dr. Daly is the second from the left next to me and Dr. Guynes is on the far right. This picture was taken just before we ran the Stump Jump trail race on Signal Mountain, TN last year.
The following is an abstract of a study reported in the Journal of Sport Psychology addressing the withdrawal symptoms in runners who have to miss running sessions. I think most of us can relate.
“The types and frequency of sensations experienced by runners when required to miss a run or series of runs was studied. Most of 345 runners of various weekly mileage levels reported some kind of distress: irritability, restlessness, frustration, guilt, and depression were reported most often. Sleeping problems, digestive difficulties, and muscle tension and soreness were reported less frequently. Three causes of exercise withdrawal were proposed: (a) a misinterpretation of the return of dysphoria (mild depression) that had been temporarily masked by the effects of running; (b) an inability to cope with stress in periods when the coping mechanism of running is temporarily unavailable; and (c) the loss of regular, predictable reinforcement of feelings of self-fulfillment gained through success or achievement in previously unimagined and unattainable ways. Results, based on cross-sectional data, were consistent with these hypotheses but do not rule out alternative explanations. The reciprocal nature of number of miles run in an average week and exercise deprivation sensations was also studied. Results indicated that runners tended to run longer in order to avoid the negative sensations that would come from not running, but that an escalation in mileage did not necessarily result in more frequent experiences of distress when not able to run.”
In a 2005 study presented in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers found that aerobic exercise, at the level suggested for public health, reduced depression as measured by the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression by 47% over 12 weeks. The public health suggested level was defined as 17.5 kcal/kg/week (5 days a week). The low dose level, 7.5 kcal/kg/week (3 days a week) was no more statistically significant than placebo.
Researchers concluded that aerobic exercise at public health recommended levels is an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression.
I won a trophy last weekend. I placed first in my age division in a half-marathon. The fact that I placed first is not the important part of this. The fact that I was able to place first is.
In my last post, I talked about having a heart attack ten years ago. The last couple of weeks have been such a poignant experience of gratitude for me. We were in New York two weeks ago and I had some great runs through Central Park. This is where I had my last run before the heart attack ten years earlier. Then to win my age group last weekend made me so grateful that I have been able to come back from that experience.
One of the things we do in working with people in recovery from addiction is have them make a gratitude list. Looking at the positives in your life can open a window and allow light to shine in on the dark places. It gives us enough light to see a way out.
Running allows me the opportunity to be very grateful.
On this week of Thanksgiving, my thoughts turn to gratitude for the ability to continue to run. Ten years ago, this coming month, Lori and I were in New York for a meeting and to do some Christmas shopping. It was a wonderful trip. New York at Christmas is a very special place. It snowed and we road a carriage through Central Park. I ran through the park in the snow.
Sitting in my office working with a patient the next week, my chest tightened and began to hurt. I was having a heart attack. How could that be?
The depression after a cardiac event is terrible. I spent a lot of time wondering what it meant and how my life would be. I went through the cardiac rehab program and then slowly started walking each morning. Something inside me didn’t want to give up the running though. My cardiologist at the time was not happy with me.
I found a cardiologist that was a runner and supported me exercising for rehabilitation. In 2011 I was able to return to New York and complete the New York City Marathon.
Have you ever wondered if you are addicted to running? I certainly have, and my answer at times has been YES. Psychiatrist William Glasser introduced the idea of positive addiction many years ago. When compared to chemical dependency or other devastating negative addictions, running is clearly not in the same company. However, those of us who have the predisposition to addiction have to beware of crossing the line into behavior that is damaging to ourselves and those we love.
The following website presents an easy measurement of your place on the exercise addiction spectrum. See what you think.