Post-workout depression: Why the mind-body connection demands attention

Post-workout depression is something people rarely talk about. Here's how to recognize it and how to avoid it.

Denise Dador Image
Saturday, February 24, 2024
Post-workout depression: The mind-body connection demands attention
One of the best benefits of working out is that feel-good endorphin rush, but sometimes, your mood can come crashing down, especially if you're exercising too intensely.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- One of the best benefits of working out is that feel-good endorphin rush, but sometimes, your mood can come crashing down, especially if you're exercising too intensely.

Post-workout depression is something people rarely talk about. Here's how to recognize it and how to avoid it.

Working out isn't just for your body, it's for your mind.

"Being in that present moment can really help to mitigate anxiety," said personal trainer and health coach Allison Wells, who said she's encountering post-workout depression more often with clients.

"They feel depressed or anxious, or a sense of exhaustion or overwhelmed after the exercise," she said.

"We know that exercise is good for your mental health, but too much of anything can be a bad thing," said Adult and Child Psychiatrist Dr. Ashley Zucker with Kaiser Permanente San Bernardino.

She said for some people, a grueling workout can be counterproductive to your mood, even with endorphins due to the release of stress hormones after a grueling workout.

"You want to make sure that you're fueling your body that's both with food and water or hydration, and then also getting the right amount of rest and sleep," Zucker said.

Physical and mental health are linked so it may be possible that you're dealing with anxiety and depression and not knowing. Experts say it's important to talk to a mental health professional to figure out what's going on.

"When it's interfering with people's everyday lives, that can indicate that there's something else going on, which they may need to seek additional help for," said Zucker.

Wells said professional athletes listen to their bodies, which means getting the proper nutrition and taking rest days. One of the biggest mistakes gym-goers make is not taking the time for a proper cool down and stretch.

"You're giving yourself that time to just kind of decompress, allowing your body to totally cool down and to come back into the rest of your day," said Wells.

She adds other ways to protect your mental health is to not compare yourself to others on social media and to vary your workouts, maybe add hiking, a dance class or a sport.

"The way to sustain any kind of an exercise routine is to do something that you enjoy," she said.