Best Training For Anxiety and Depression?

CT, in your experience is there a type of training that is best suited for those prone to anxiety and depression?

Does it change for those on medication? i.e dealing with fatigue, weight gain and other side effects.

Not CT, but lactate inducing training has been shown to have a significant impact on the production of brain derived neurotrophic factor, deficiencies of which have been found to correlate with depression, anxiety, dementia, and Parkinson’s.

As someone whose grandfather and father have been impacted by the latter two diseases, it’s a topic of special interest to me as a layman, not a specialist.

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@Christian_Thibaudeau Would something like this still work or have you changed opinion?

" I wouldn’t go full body unless you do only 3 sessions per week. Although 2As can be “forced” to only train 3x a week when they have a period of high stress/anxiety… but in that specific case I prefer a lower/upper/whole body split.

A good approach would be to use “the best program for natural lifters” but only 4 days a week (roll through the 6 workouts, but in a week and a half instead of one week). It is designed to minimize cortisol.

2A don’t have high serotonin or high GABA, rather they have an average level of both. When they begin to be anxious it thus indicates that both are low/depleted and need to be addressed.

Supplement-wise they thus need to use a 3 pronged approach:

  1. Replenish GABA
  2. Replenish serotonin
  3. Use supplements to calm down the nervous system until you have re-balanced your neurotransmitters

The good thing is that Z12 (https://biotest.t-nation.com/products/z-12 ) can address both GABA and serotonin since it contains phenibut and 5-HTP. I would actually recommend 1 capsule of Z12 in the afternoon and 1-2 in the evening. 1 will not put you to sleep (especially if you have low GABA and low serotonin) but it will reduce anxiety by increasing both neurotransmitters.

If you find yourself to have the following symptoms:

  • More emotional than usual
  • Harsher negative inner language than usual
  • Big mood swings during the day
  • More headaches

It would indicate high glutamate levels and in this case the low GABA would be because of a poor conversion of glutamate into GABA. If that is the case pyridoxine and Gotu Kola would be advised as both increase the conversion of glutamate into GABA. Brain Candy (https://biotest.t-nation.com/products/brain-candy ) has pyridoxine. And in your case the theanine would also help you deal with anxiety. I would recommend the caffeine-free version.

Finally 3-10g of glycine post workout would help by calming down the CNS, reducing anxiety and cortisol release."

so. it’s lactate type workout is better or worst for depression and anxiety ?

In my experience dealing with anxiety and depression I’ve found that manipulation of training parameters is only one part of the equasion.

Even if your training is 100% optimized, you can still experience severe symptoms of anxiety and depression.

There’s a lot more room for progression in the sleep, nutrition and stress management department.

Work on sleep hygiene first, this has the most impact on your overall mental and physical health. You can train all you want, the stimulus will never have the desired effect if you cannot recover from it. Especially if you’re dealing with fatigue, weight gain, concentration issues, coordination problems, racing thoughts, extreme mood swings and all other symptoms related to an overactive sympathetic nervous system. The most important factor for progress in training when you’re dealing with anxiety is paying special attention to recovery and achieving balance between sympathetic (fight or flight, anxious “ready to go”, thoughts all over the place mode) and parasympathetic (i’m chill BRO, feeling fine, feeling great and relaxed, chrystal clear thoughts and inner bliss) activity. The parasympathetic nervous system is chronically shut down in people dealing with anxiety or similar nervous system imbalances.

Second, nutrition is key. Anxiety and depression are more often than not related to chronic nutrient deficiencies. The cause of these deficiencies can be several things: bad eating habits, too much alcohol or coffee, drugs, chronic dehydration, abuse of medication, chronic stress (mental or physical), overtraining. Make sure you eat a well rounded diet consisting of enough carbs (most potent macro to reduce cortisol, which is overproduced in people with anxiety), healthy fats (omega 3’s but also 9’s and 6’s. Omega 6 is not all bad, it’s still an essential fatty acid for nervous system health) and enough protein (your whole body is made up of protein, not just your muscles). Carbs and fats are essential for the assimilation of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and energy but also for hormone/enzyme/neurotransmitter production, protein synthesis (energy for muscle building needs to come from somewhere). Glucose from healthy carb sources like fruits, veggies, (gluten)free grains and wild foods like blueberries, maple syrup and raw honey are crucial for the liver and the nervous system to function optimally. Fats provide building blocks for myelin production (sort of white sheath that covers the axons, that bridge neurons together and make communication possible). Protein is essential because it’s made up of amino acids that are used by the entire body. Energy balance is key too. When you have been dieting for a long time or your caloric deficit is high, try going to maintenance for a while or decrease the caloric deficit. Why? Because a caloric deficit increases cortisol production overtime and it also increases your chances of nutrient deficiencies. Especially when you are working out a lot or experiencing a lot of stress in your life. These factors drastically increase the need for more nutrients from your diet.

Third, invest more time in stress management. Discover and learn to understand your triggers. It doesn’t matter if they are psychological or physical. What does matter is how much control you have over these triggers. If you know what they are and why they happen, it becomes a lot easier to find what protocol works to bring down or eliminate those triggers all together. There are 1000’s of ways to deal with stress. I’ve found the easiest way to be emotion regulation. You see, stress is often accompanied by strong emotions/thoughts and associated behaviours (approaching or avoiding depending on your subconscious convictions). If you take the time to recognize and reflect on these emotions that come up during times of severe stress, you can discover what basic desire is lacking in your life. Humans need to fullfill 4 basic desires to be mentally healthy: connection, orientation/control, self confidence and pleasure/avoidance of pain. Anxiety is most often related to a lack of self confidence, control or connection. The approaching or avoiding behaviour you exhibit towards the satisfaction of these lacking desire(s) also gives you a lot of information on what might be ailing you. In short, figure out the source of your anxiety/depression if you haven’t already, find out which basic need(s) is/are lacking in your life via your triggers/emotions and find protocols or the help of a professional to work on fixing it.

Lastly, training. In my personal opinion i’ve concluded that training VOLUME is the most deciding variable that needs to be manipulated if you’re suffering from anxiety. The more volume a training session has, the more cortisol/adrenaline you need to produce to fuel that session. You can try and counter this by having some carbs pre- or intraworkout but I honestly did not see a lot of benefit from that. I’ve got much better physical and psychological results by keeping volume lower overall and keeping intensity (how close to failure you train, RPE system) higher. Especially when you’re cutting and dealing with anxiety, a full body 3x per week minimalist approach with volume between 10-15 worksets per session works pretty well. You can use higher volume or a higher training frequency when bulking but I would advise you to adjust training intensity accordingly. If you’re doing 25 worksets in a session, it’s best to keep the RPE per workset around 8-9, starting with 7 on your first workset. But these are just recommendations. Experiment with volume and find out what amount works best for you.

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