T Nation

Anxiety and Contact Sports?

Has anyone had the experience of contact sports helping with anxiety and panic attacks? If so, which ones and how often do you do them? I read another thread that talked about it briefly. I’m approaching the big 40 and am not sure if contact sports are the way to go.

Join a boxing club, by doing all those drills, punching bags, speed balls, shadow boxing, upper cut bags etc will help you out a lot, You dont need to hit somebody to help you control the attacks (of course you could use pads).
Hope this helps

[quote]muscleintraining wrote:
Has anyone had the experience of contact sports helping with anxiety and panic attacks? If so, which ones and how often do you do them? I read another thread that talked about it briefly. I’m approaching the big 40 and am not sure if contact sports are the way to go.[/quote]

I’ve had panic disorder/anxiety attacks for over 18 years now and I’ve had mixed results with different types of training. The widely publicised studies about aerobic training to battle depression are everywhere but not as much regarding panic disorder.
Studies have shown that infusions of sodium lactate induced panic attacks in those suffering from the disorder. Does that mean excessive lactate accumulation from exercise might trigger panic? I’ve tried personally to answer that one definitively and haven’t come up with a concrete result. I’ve had times where hard conditioning/training(both aerobic and anaerobic) have helped and then periods where it actually seemed to make it worse.
If you find any definite answers for yourself, please let me know as I’m still battling severe panic disorder too.

Cheers,
Kaleb.

Kaleb,

Thanks for the info. 18 years…wow! What sort of workouts have you tried? Which ones seems to help? Which ones make is worse? Or, does it just vary. I’m having the same issue as you trying to find a “solution” to this problem. There doesn’t seem to be a definitive treatment.

Also, if you don’t mind sharing (PM or on the posting)…have you tried any medications? If so, which one? Have they helped?

Magnesium aspartate, such as found in ZMA has helped me with anxiety quite a bit. I take ZMA at night and additional mg aspartate 150 mgs 3x per day during the day. The amino acid theanine, found in green tea also helps.

Thanks for the info about ZMA. Can I ask…was your anxiety bad enough that you tried medication? If so, which one(s)?

[quote]muscleintraining wrote:
Thanks for the info about ZMA. Can I ask…was your anxiety bad enough that you tried medication? If so, which one(s)?[/quote]

I was on the beta blocker Coreg for anxiety. I weaned myself off of it slowly, at the end I was only taking it a couple of times a week before any situation which I knew would cause me anxiety. I did not like it, even in small amounts, because it seemed to cloud my thinking process. I have not had any Coreg in months. I have tried St Johns Wort in the past but it also affected my thinking. You might also try 500mg to 1000mg of niacinamide, but this slows my thinking down just a bit.

[quote]muscleintraining wrote:
Kaleb,

Thanks for the info. 18 years…wow! What sort of workouts have you tried? Which ones seems to help? Which ones make is worse? Or, does it just vary. I’m having the same issue as you trying to find a “solution” to this problem. There doesn’t seem to be a definitive treatment.

Also, if you don’t mind sharing (PM or on the posting)…have you tried any medications? If so, which one? Have they helped?[/quote]

Yeah 18 years and going!
Yes, I’ve been on a VERY large list of medications and many of my shrinks and specialists have labelled me an “atypical non-responder”.
The magnesium and L-theanine are good for very mild anxiety but I’ve found for people who suffer from “hardcore” panic/anxiety disorders, they do little or nothing. HOWEVER, I do believe vitamin/mineral dificiencies, poor nutritional habits and less than optimum activity/exercise can severely
exacerbate the condition.
The medications most often prescribed for panic/anxiety are the bezodiazipines. Names like Xanax, Ativan, Clonazepam(Klonopin) etc.
While these drugs are very effectiveat reducing anxiety levels they can and SHOULD only be used for short term treatment as they can be VERY addictive. I spent close to 4 months coming off of huge amounts of ativan and it was the worst experience of my life.
My panic cycles are always inconsistent as far as definitive patterns go. I basically have had to live day to day, month to month for many years. Some of the more “metabolically demanding” style workouts designed to minimize rest periods and maximize lactate levels GENERALLY seem to aggravate my anxiety levels the most but that isn’t always the case.
What has been your experience with different training types and your anxiety?

Cheers,
Kaleb.

Kaleb,

Again…thanks for the info. I haven’t been working out much since the panic attacks/anxiety. I had a lot of chest pain and racing heartbeats. It has made me a little nervous (no pun intended) about working out. I’ve had a full cardiac work-up and the docs say I’m fine. My plan is to start some cardio and light lifting again. I’ve tried yoga which is pretty good as well.

muscleint

Here’s my latest thoughts on panic/anxiety disorders.

Change the way you think. Rather than focusing on how to eliminate the anxiety, focus on gaining confidence, getting fit, getting strong, etc.

Think to yourself you are fit, healthy wioth a life of fun, excitmemt, love, and all the other empowering emotions you can think of.

I think getting into the habit of saying these things and changing your focus will be the only way to save the anxiety for when its really needed.

Thats what I’m going to do anyways. I cant see anything bad comming from it.

[quote]muscleintraining wrote:
Kaleb,

Again…thanks for the info. I haven’t been working out much since the panic attacks/anxiety. I had a lot of chest pain and racing heartbeats. It has made me a little nervous (no pun intended) about working out. I’ve had a full cardiac work-up and the docs say I’m fine. My plan is to start some cardio and light lifting again. I’ve tried yoga which is pretty good as well.[/quote]

I finally developed full scale anxiety attacks after years of exhaustion, fatigue,myofascial pain, etc… It scared the hell out of me and really messed up my life. You might want to research adrenal fatigue…The treatment for it (Rx) just made my anxiety “go away.”

Hey Grimnuruk

That sounds very familar. I did the same. Never got my adreanls checked thought… Maybe I will.

[quote]Grimnuruk wrote:
muscleintraining wrote:
Kaleb,

Again…thanks for the info. I haven’t been working out much since the panic attacks/anxiety. I had a lot of chest pain and racing heartbeats. It has made me a little nervous (no pun intended) about working out. I’ve had a full cardiac work-up and the docs say I’m fine. My plan is to start some cardio and light lifting again. I’ve tried yoga which is pretty good as well.

I finally developed full scale anxiety attacks after years of exhaustion, fatigue,myofascial pain, etc… It scared the hell out of me and really messed up my life. You might want to research adrenal fatigue…The treatment for it (Rx) just made my anxiety “go away.”

[/quote]
Hi - may I ask what the treatment was and how long it took to work ? I have
some similar issues. Thanks for yor time. PV

Adrenal fatigue is definitely worth checking into. Even if you’re not found to be “clinically” in a state of massive adrenal fatigue it might beneficial to look into nutrition for adrenal recovery and optimization. There are several supplements out there that may help as well as avoiding things such as stimulants(caffeine etc.) that can over-tax the adrenals.

I had my adrenal status checked but unfortunately that didn’t turn up anything useful as far as treatment/results go.
Getting your T levels checked can also be helpful.

If your testosterone levels are low enough it can cause anxiety, depression and a major loss of
motivation and “zest for life”(as well as loss of libido, sleep disturbances and irritability).
It turned out when I had mine checked it was quite low so they started me on TRT(testosterone replacement therapy) this past October.

Interestingly, 3 doctors/specialists I’ve seen have explained to me that a lot of the meds I’m on for anxiety and depression work very little or close to not at all if the hormonal system is out of whack.

The body is an incredible thing.
When conventional approaches to treating illnesses/conditions doctors need to start looking “outside the textbook”.

Hope this info helps at least a little.

Cheers,
Kaleb.

[quote]muscleintraining wrote:
Thanks for the info about ZMA. Can I ask…was your anxiety bad enough that you tried medication? If so, which one(s)?[/quote]

I’ve had Generalzed Anxiety Disorder for about 2 1/2 years now. I’ve been on Lexapro and Trazodone since then. I take the Lexapro in the morning to pick me up and the Trazodone in the evening to settle me down/help me sleep. I compare myself to where I was 2 1/2 years ago in my life and can’t believe the difference its made.

I agree with pandaton, boxing training has done wonder for me. It seriously reduces stress when you go all out with it. Invest in a heavy bag.

A couple of weeks ago I added high DHA fish oil caps, right now 6 per day and this seems to have definitely helped me. I will increase it it the future.

Meditate, eat clean, exercise the optiaml amount for you, manage your stressors, sleep from 10pm to 6am, focus on your goals daily, dont talk about your problems all the time.

Tell yourself youre a headstrong mother fucker.