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LengLeng

Depression caused by fighting/training

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Hi! We discussed muay thai as therapy before, but while researching links between training and depression I came across the following, and particularly this section I found interesting. Or actually, it concerns me a bit as I can somehow relate and it challenges my view of always pushing through. 

"Serotonin helps regulate mood, dieting can affect serotonin levels, which can lead to depression.  Light exercise can boost these levels; fighters, though, suffer from yo-yoing serotonin due to extreme dieting and gruelling workouts.  Research shows that over-training and making weight can lead to physical and mental side effects such as flu, cold sores and mood swings (Richard Budgett. ‘Overtraining Syndrome.’ British Journal of Sports Medicine, 24 (4) pp.231-236).

“When you are experiencing a depression you will usually assume it is a drop in motivation,” explained James. “What happens is that, as you start to become depressed, you have to get up and train anyway, but doing it with all the physical symptoms of depression.  Because you can't see this, you put it down to a lack of motivation and try to give yourself a kick up the arse.

“Then you become even more disillusioned in your performance levels and ability, which causes even more hormonal and chemical changes in the brain.  This gives you physical symptoms, such as tiredness—you can't concentrate or sort things out—and things become a massive effort.

“Because it is not recognised as depression, and as the symptoms take hold, you think you're losing your ability.  Things you’ve usually done—like getting up at 5a.m. to run—feel like they are slipping away.  They'll still get up and do these things; people will see them doing them and think they're OK.

“With my clients, we go through that whole cycle, starting with acceptance (of depression).  They can then recognise if they start to slip again, and stop it before it gets hold.  Outside the world of sport depression is seen as staying in bed with the curtains closed, so they see getting up and doing things, even with low motivation, as a sign they're not depressed. "

https://www.boxingscene.com/depression-boxing-silent-blow--73467

What I would like to know if it has been demonstrated that repeated blows to the head can cause depression? 

 

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Never looked into it from the boxing side of things, the subject matter's way too disturbing to even try and read about when it's a sport we do every day. If you ever get sad it's better to just eat your feelings. Coffee flavoured Hagen Daz has to be at number 1, followed closely by the cookie dough flavour. The whole 440ml tub emptied in a soup bowl...some hot salted caramel sauce, garnished with roasted cashews.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3322364/

The NFL had this problem from head damage back in the early 00s, think they got sued by a bunch of players too. If IMDB gives it a 6.8 or above, that usually means it's good. If they say 7.1, that's like us giving a movie 8.5 or something, they're never wrong.

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9 hours ago, Oliver said:

Never looked into it from the boxing side of things, the subject matter's way too disturbing to even try and read about when it's a sport we do every day. If you ever get sad it's better to just eat your feelings. Coffee flavoured Hagen Daz has to be at number 1, followed closely by the cookie dough flavour. The whole 440ml tub emptied in a soup bowl...some hot salted caramel sauce, garnished with roasted cashews.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3322364/

The NFL had this problem from head damage back in the early 00s, think they got sued by a bunch of players too. If IMDB gives it a 6.8 or above, that usually means it's good. If they say 7.1, that's like us giving a movie 8.5 or something, they're never wrong.

Imdb is never wrong but please don't go lower than 8. Keep your standards. 

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If IMDB gives it an 8 or above, Netflix doesn't have it. All they got is 5s and 6s, movies written by a committee of 12 people with a checklist.  

Could tell you how Netflix works too, if you want. I can explain it in a slow and patronising manner, because I know that's what girls like.

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31 minutes ago, Oliver said:

If IMDB gives it an 8 or above, Netflix doesn't have it. All they got is 5s and 6s, movies written by a committee of 12 people with a checklist.  

Could tell you how Netflix works too, if you want. I can explain it in a slow and patronising manner, because I know that's what girls like.

...ahahaha go watch Forks over Knife or similar. 

To circle back to the topic. Blows to the head, concussion and depression, are there established links? I keep hearing about it but haven't seen any research. 

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I'm not very knowledgeable on the physiological side of things, but it seems to me that fighting as a way of life implicates physiological phenomenons with obvious correlations to depression; blows to the head, the extreme fluctuations of the sympathic nervous system, the reciprocity of potential overtraining and malnutrition, the inflammatory injuries etc. What I'm more certain about are the phenomenological aspects of fighting, that as a way of life lends itself to obvious intersections with depressive tendencies - the constant awareness of the upcoming fight, which may cost you your identity, worst case your very life, the constant confrontation with your weaknesses through sparring with better or bigger fighters, the highs of the victory and the lows of the loss, the sacrifice of social life and family time, the relentless grind and repetition in training. As a fighter all aspects of your life converges towards one identity, that of the fighter, and it is an identity that is always to-be-determined in the ring. You can never rest, you are never good enough, you are always fucking fighting. The restlessness of the fighter, the eternal fight within, the making of yourself and your life a fight - that not only means that you either win or lose, it means that you are a winner or a loser, that your life is a victory or it is a loss. And when you lose, which the fighter may do both in sparring, during roadwork or in the ring, how could that look like anything but depression? The human being is not only physiologically not built for fighting (it is built for hunting and warring), but phenomenologically I cannot see how life as a fighter can be anything but temporary, the building of a memory and identity that is the most beautiful but ultimately fleeting, and which leaves a human being broken and in need of healing after the fact.

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On 6/10/2021 at 4:32 AM, Asger said:

I'm not very knowledgeable on the physiological side of things, but it seems to me that fighting as a way of life implicates physiological phenomenons with obvious correlations to depression; blows to the head, the extreme fluctuations of the sympathic nervous system, the reciprocity of potential overtraining and malnutrition, the inflammatory injuries etc. What I'm more certain about are the phenomenological aspects of fighting, that as a way of life lends itself to obvious intersections with depressive tendencies - the constant awareness of the upcoming fight, which may cost you your identity, worst case your very life, the constant confrontation with your weaknesses through sparring with better or bigger fighters, the highs of the victory and the lows of the loss, the sacrifice of social life and family time, the relentless grind and repetition in training. As a fighter all aspects of your life converges towards one identity, that of the fighter, and it is an identity that is always to-be-determined in the ring. You can never rest, you are never good enough, you are always fucking fighting. The restlessness of the fighter, the eternal fight within, the making of yourself and your life a fight - that not only means that you either win or lose, it means that you are a winner or a loser, that your life is a victory or it is a loss. And when you lose, which the fighter may do both in sparring, during roadwork or in the ring, how could that look like anything but depression? The human being is not only physiologically not built for fighting (it is built for hunting and warring), but phenomenologically I cannot see how life as a fighter can be anything but temporary, the building of a memory and identity that is the most beautiful but ultimately fleeting, and which leaves a human being broken and in need of healing after the fact.

This is very beautifully put. And it captures all the risks of fighting on your mental health. I do believe though, at the same time, fighting can be healing and empowering. And it's about managing this double-edged sword that is the real challenge. 

I can also see why Buddhism plays such a large role in muay thai, non-attachment and acceptance are important mental strategies to manage all this (and of course, the difficult life of growing up to be a fighter). 

I'm not sure I agree about humans are not built for fighting. I think fighting has always been a part of humanity, although we might not be physiologically built for it. Also when we were hunters and gatherers. A means for survival. We just re-enact this now in an organised manner, while humanity has developed other weapons where our limbs are not our weapons (although keyboard warriors use their fingers a lot obviously 🙄😉). 

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20 hours ago, LengLeng said:

This is very beautifully put. And it captures all the risks of fighting on your mental health. I do believe though, at the same time, fighting can be healing and empowering. And it's about managing this double-edged sword that is the real challenge. 

I can also see why Buddhism plays such a large role in muay thai, non-attachment and acceptance are important mental strategies to manage all this (and of course, the difficult life of growing up to be a fighter). 

I'm not sure I agree about humans are not built for fighting. I think fighting has always been a part of humanity, although we might not be physiologically built for it. Also when we were hunters and gatherers. A means for survival. We just re-enact this now in an organised manner, while humanity has developed other weapons where our limbs are not our weapons (although keyboard warriors use their fingers a lot obviously 🙄😉). 

I would never disagree with the statement that fighting can be healing and empowering, I believe it can be just as much antidote to as it can be amplifier of depressive tendencies. Your point about it being a double-edged sword seems to capture it all. Life is a fight, fighters are the artists of life par excellence, and so it follows that they will experience happiness in its fullest aspect just as much as they are at risk of depression. I do however believe that the hunt, although undoubtedly dangerous, is fundamentally different than fighting - most importantly the pack aspect, the asymmetry of hunter-prey (whereas fighting is hunter-hunter), the lack of crowd (I suppose you could argue that the crowd waits for food at home, but they are not immediate witnesses to either success or failure as in fighting) and the difference in preparation (the grueling grind of the fighter vs. the non-training of the hunter) towards the event. I'm sure we've always fought, but I blieve it was likely more a matter of manifestation of power (dominance) than application of killing efficiency, as you would see in a fight betweens animals over mating rights for example. I'm very convinced that the life of fighters is very different than the evolutionary ontology of human beings in a hunter-gather context.

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14 hours ago, Asger said:

I would never disagree with the statement that fighting can be healing and empowering, I believe it can be just as much antidote to as it can be amplifier of depressive tendencies. Your point about it being a double-edged sword seems to capture it all. Life is a fight, fighters are the artists of life par excellence, and so it follows that they will experience happiness in its fullest aspect just as much as they are at risk of depression. I do however believe that the hunt, although undoubtedly dangerous, is fundamentally different than fighting - most importantly the pack aspect, the asymmetry of hunter-prey (whereas fighting is hunter-hunter), the lack of crowd (I suppose you could argue that the crowd waits for food at home, but they are not immediate witnesses to either success or failure as in fighting) and the difference in preparation (the grueling grind of the fighter vs. the non-training of the hunter) towards the event. I'm sure we've always fought, but I blieve it was likely more a matter of manifestation of power (dominance) than application of killing efficiency, as you would see in a fight betweens animals over mating rights for example. I'm very convinced that the life of fighters is very different than the evolutionary ontology of human beings in a hunter-gather context.

Yeah fully agree with you on fighting training.

On hunter gatherer, I'm not sure we should be limited to our evolutionary background. But I'm also not too informed about the subject so I don't feel confident enough to discuss. It would just be speculation/uneducated views from my side. 

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On 6/5/2021 at 2:38 AM, LengLeng said:

 

What I would like to know if it has been demonstrated that repeated blows to the head can cause depression? 

 

Concussive blows, most definitely. Repeated touches (i.e. light and playful sparring) no, and there it is unlikely to found as well. 

Depression is actually quite common after a knock-out. If you've been around a gym with active fighters for a while I'm sure you've seen it. It might come off as lack of confidence after a loss, which might be a factor of course, but a more important variable is concussive blows. When the brain takes damage(concussions) your hormone production is affected as well as your perception. 

If you give your brain time to heal, it will usually pass in time. Unless you know what is happening though, it can be quite destructive to your relationships. 

 

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On 7/7/2021 at 2:17 PM, shade said:

Concussive blows, most definitely. Repeated touches (i.e. light and playful sparring) no, and there it is unlikely to found as well. 

Depression is actually quite common after a knock-out. If you've been around a gym with active fighters for a while I'm sure you've seen it. It might come off as lack of confidence after a loss, which might be a factor of course, but a more important variable is concussive blows. When the brain takes damage(concussions) your hormone production is affected as well as your perception. 

If you give your brain time to heal, it will usually pass in time. Unless you know what is happening though, it can be quite destructive to your relationships. 

 

Thank you. 

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It's important to remember that no two people experience anxiety/depression/mental illness in the same way. For one person, getting into a stable habit of exercise and healthy eating might be all they need to be their best mentally, while others might need to explore additional avenues such as therapy or medication. Still, martial arts training can only help your mental state! Here are some of the ways it does.

  • Improves Your Focus: When you’re anxious, it can be difficult to focus on anything. You may find your attention is fleeting, and that it is probably difficult to get anything done. When exercising, you are able to give yourself focus with a set goal
  • Reduces Your Stress: You have probably heard that cardio can help reduce stress. It’s true, and martial arts are great cardio training!
  • Increases Your Self-Esteem: Low self-esteem takes a toll on your mental health. Physical activity, particularly martial arts, helps raise a person’s self-esteem. As you build strength of mind and spirit, you also start to build self-confidence.
  • Helps Increase Your Endorphin Levels: Physical activity raises the levels of feel-good hormones in your body. These hormones, known as endorphins, have an impact on mental states.
  • Improves Your Sleep Pattern: When you think of physical activity, how often do you think about sleep? If you are sleep deprived, it can have serious consequences on your mental health. If you are already suffering from anxiety or depression, a lack of sleep makes it a lot worse. In some cases, depression or anxiety may cause your inability to sleep.

 

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