CrossFit 623 - How CrossFit Saved Me From Depression

Monique Martin is a self-described adventurous soul with a flair for life and all its challenges. About a year ago, she was suffering from severe depression until one day she was inspired to attend a CrossFit class, which helped alleviate her pain. The following account is from Monique, in her own words.

This morning, I couldn’t get out of bed. My anxiety had me pinned down beneath the familiar comfort of my blanket. I felt paralyzed, stuck between wanting to stay in the safety of my bed, and desperately trying to get up and do something — anything beyond stare at the ceiling. Out of the thick fog that surrounded me, I heard a ping; a notification from my phone that drew my attention to the real world. It was a reminder about my workout of the day, a term usually shortened simply to “WOD.” All it took was reading this short list or exercises to rouse me from my stupor. I had work to do, and I wasn’t going to let my mental fog keep me from it.

I didn’t always have this little lifesaver. Before I ever stepped foot into a CrossFit gym — usually called a box— I was one of those people who vilified CrossFit as a cult-like phenomenon that wouldn’t outlive its sudden popularity. My mother fell victim to the trend after meeting a friend at work whose husband owned a box. She signed up, fell in love, and wanted me to fall in love as well. For months I pushed her off and denied her pleas for me to try it with her, even just once.

At this point in my life, I was not only at my heaviest weight but also at one of my lowest points in my battle with depression and anxiety. I wasn’t interested in failing again, and I wasn’t interested in listening to everyone around me who could see I was self-destructing. But my mother was relentless. She wasn’t going to let go of this CrossFit thing.

February 2015 was the first time I gave in. I let my mom drag me to a Saturday class, during which I felt like I was dying. Even so, it was addictive. Not in the unhealthy way that we normally think of addictive things, but in the way that I’d finally found something that would eventually make me strong.

Click here to continue reading Monique’s story.

Exercise & Depression

CrossFit 623 Exercise & Depression Infographic

In one 2005 study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise five days a week reduced symptoms of depression by nearly half after 12 weeks.

According to the National Institutes of Health, depression affects roughly 9.5 percent of Americans each year and nearly 17 percent will suffer from a major depressive episode at some point in their life.

Millions of Americans suffer from clinical depression each year. Most depressed patients first seek treatment from their primary care providers. Generally, depressed patients treated in primary care settings receive pharmacologic therapy alone. There is evidence to suggest that the addition of cognitive-behavioral therapies, specifically exercise, can improve treatment outcomes for many patients. Exercise is a behavioral intervention that has shown great promise in alleviating symptoms of depression. The current review discusses the growing body of research examining the exercise-depression relationship that supports the efficacy of exercise as an adjunct treatment. Databases searched were Medline, PsycLit, PubMed, and SportsDiscus from the years 1996 through 2003. Terms used in the search were clinical depression, depression, exercise, and physical activity. Further, because primary care physicians deliver important mental health services to the majority of depressed patients, several specific recommendations are made regarding counseling these patients on the adoption and maintenance of exercise programs.

Involvement in structured exercise has shown promise in alleviating symptoms of clinical depression. Since the early 1900s, researchers have been interested in the association between exercise and depression. Early case studies concluded that, at least for some, moderate-intensity exercise should be beneficial for depression and result in a happier mood. Further, a relationship between physical work capacity (PWC) and depression appeared to exist, but the directional nature of this relationship could not be addressed via case and cross-sectional studies. However, researchers have remained interested in the antidepressant effects of exercise and more recently have utilized experimental designs to study this association.

Depression Resources

Anxiety and Depression Association of America – Get Help
Exercise for Depression: How it Helps
Help Yourself Out of Depression
Depression and Anxiety: Exercise Eases Symptoms
How to Beat Depression Naturally

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