Anti-depressants and cycling

My doctor wants to prescribe me anti depressants. So my first thought in reaction to that is how is that going to affect my cycling - does anyone have any experience they can share on things to expect like HR, performance - did you feel better etc. ?

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I started taking fluoxetine about a year and a half ago. Overall it’s been a net gain for me. Helped me with a lot of the anxiety/depression that I was experiencing. I haven’t noticed any physical side effects besides that I gained about 15lbs… But I’d attribute that to having my knee operated on and living that covid lifestyle (beer). Just got through base again though and the pounds are coming off, and motivation is high!

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I take citalopram and haven’t noticed any negative side effects. No weight change and no issues with fitness or workouts due to the medication. The better control over my anxiety and depression helps eliminate that as a barrier to sticking to scheduled workouts as well.

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I took topamax and lamictal for several years for bipolar without any workout issues and to be honest one of the best things I found for my mental health and well being is a structured workout plan coupled with a very good therapist. That has worked wonders for me

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I was on a relatively high dose of Bupropion for a while. It worked really well but after a while I started having myalgia regularly, to the point that I had to take 1-2 weeks off the bike a couple times last year. When my doctor and I figured out that it might be the cause I went down to the lowest dose in an extended release form and within a few weeks I was feeling much better physically. I would say that on the lower dose I notice intrusive thoughts a bit more frequently. However, therapy has given me much better tools for coping with them so I am better equipped to handle it now.

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The thing about most of these drugs, is that the side effect list is a mile long. Most people don’t have many side effects, but you may react differently. I started out with Lexapro, but wasn’t a functional human being, much less athlete. Bupropion is what I’m on now, and it’s better for me. I don’t think it’s really harming my performance, I’m still doing workouts at roughly the same power. I’m not sure if you struggle more with anxiety or depression, and you don’t need to say, but if it gets you on the bike more (depression), or it calms you down and allows you to sleep more (anxiety), it can only be a plus in my book.

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I think you should focus on working with your doctor to get the anti-depressant that works best for you and your lifestyle. I would however not contemplate going against your doctor’s advice and not taking the prescription. Depression is not something to mess with. If you don’t trust your doctor than get a second opinion.

I am on generic Lexapro and I would say it is probably a significant aid to training due to improved ability to rest. I fall asleep a hell of lot easier than I used to. Not sure if that is all due to the Lexapro, but I do think it is a factor (i.e. reduced anxiety promotes better sleep).

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If you find the right anti-depressant your cycling will likely benefit.

I started taking generic lexapro about 1.5 yrs ago (my first experience with an anti-depresant) and have benefitted immensely. My relationship with cycling and other sports has changed a bit from “I need this thing so I don’t lose my mind” to “I do this thing because it brings me joy”. You might find you are less inclined to just destroy yourself during workouts, but more able to train consistently. Over the long term consistency probably wins out.

No weight gain for me and side effects have been minimal. That said, I work with a very experienced psychiatrist rather than a GP. I think it’s a delicate enough process that I prefer to employ a specialist even if I pay more for the service.

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Interesting thread. I’ve been prescribed Mirtazapine, but am holding off starting it because of the list of side effects, esp the likely weight gain. For now I’m trying to keep my (mild) depression at bay through daily exercise, but that may change.

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I have no experience of them and I have pretty robust mental health…that said as a friend of mine who is over 70 and an ex top class TTer regularly says there is nothing in life that isn’t made better by riding your bike more…so that would always be my number 1 go to message. If that doesn’t work then obviously support is needed but looking at the side effects list and the experience I had when a former partner took them I would hope they are an absolute last resort and not an easy out for a doctor…I hope the days of trying to medicate our way out of mental health issues are behind us.

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It’s not a leap to interpret your post as “if you toughen up, you won’t need medication”. There is a stigma in our society that discourages folks from seeking help. The brain is an organ like any other, and you wouldn’t suggest that someone HTFU and stop taking their liver medication or treating their diabetes with insulin.

If someone is on this forum, they are likely already doing all the things that help with depression like exercising frequently, being fairly hygienic with their sleep, and eating healthy. Don’t shame them.

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Meds can also help you get there if you’re not already doing all those things. When my depression was at it’s worst I felt terrible and I could barely sleep, eat or train. The meds I got helped me sleep and not feel terrible; which helped me get back to training and eating like normal.

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Exercise absolutely helps my anxiety and depression, but I needed more than that. I was very reluctant to try medication for years because of perceived stigma, but I finally came to the conclusion that the arsenal of other tools I had amassed, while very helpful, weren’t going to be enough for me. I finally realized that I needed to try something else in addition if I wanted to see further improvement, so I worked with my doctor to find a medication and dose that works for me. Exercise and therapy got me a long ways, but medication took it a step further, which I honestly needed. This thread is generally very encouraging because I think the more we talk about these things and normalize them, the easier it will be for others who are struggling. The “suck it up buttercup” mentality that exists in much of society can be very damaging to those who are struggling. I think I would’ve been in a better place sooner if I hadn’t rejected the idea of medication for so long.

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Another endorsement for Lexapro here

Certainly is a leap as that is not what I meant - I was merely pointing out that medication has been used too much in the past by lazy doctors who couldn’t be bothered to investigate the root cause of the problem. I full appreciate that in some situations there is no alternative, I would just venture to suggest it should be the last resort as, side effects as mentioned can cause as many problems as are solved. Wasn’t shaming anyone that’s just your interpretation.

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Well this is my issue pretty much, I’ve gone from 12hr training weeks to 7hr and now 2hr, just out of general loss of interest in… everything. I talked about this with the doctor and took the prescription so we’ll see where it goes

I certainly didn’t interpret your comment as shaming. I did interpret it as ignorant.

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Why? - shouldn’t other avenues be explored before we resort to medication which can have potentially severe side effects? :thinking:

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I’m on Venlafaxine and Buproprion right now(Sertraline in the past) and it’s been helping me. Not sure about the performance on bike but I assume if anti-depressants can help you mentally, it should to translate to better on the bike. The side effects are the one thing I would focus on. Venlafaxine has good for me but there is heavy side effects if I stop taking it.

Most of the people who are considering medication have explored other avenues, sometimes for years. When people who haven’t experienced these issues jump to the conclusion that doctors simply over-prescribe and over-medicate for mental health issues, then it makes some who are struggling afraid to consider medication as an option due to fear of judgment. This was absolutely the case for me. I spent a number of years in weekly therapy and pursuing alternatives to medication before I even felt comfortable bringing up the possibility to my doctor. My fear of judgment because of comments that others had made was that strong - some along the same line as yours. There were certainly several years that went by between when it was first presented to me as an option and when I finally felt comfortable enough to actually pursue it, and knowing what I know now, I could’ve probably spared myself some suffering over those years if I had felt comfortable with it sooner. Medication isn’t a solution in isolation for me - I feel better when I also am exercising regularly and have other outlets and ways to work on my mental health - but it helps make everything else easier to do because my anxiety and depression are no longer keeping me from sleeping, among other things.

Anti-depressants aren’t the only medication to have potentially significant side effects (and I’ve thankfully had none with mine anyhow), but people don’t immediately jump to the over-medication angle when considering other illnesses for which medications that have potentially serious side effects are prescribed the way some do with mental health issues.

I guess I wonder what the point of your original comment was. This was a thread where the OP was asking others for their experience with anti-depressants and training, which many of us provided, and you said yourself that you don’t have experience with them and training, and then proceeded to bring up over-medication instead. It seems off-topic at best but also fairly belittling to those taking medication for mental health issues, which seems to be the interpretation others had as well. OP didn’t mention what he had done prior to his doctor suggesting medication (nor should he have to if he doesn’t want to share that information), so we shouldn’t make assumptions about what he has or hasn’t tried up to this point, and it’s not really relevant to the topic at hand anyways.

@jordonp, best of luck and I hope you find a solution that works well for you!

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