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  • Training with depression

    I am a personal trainer that has been training an individual for the past several years who has this year developed a case of depression. His symptoms include loss of appetite, insomnia, and apparent emotional distress. He is very reluctant to visit a mental health professional to get treatment for his condition, although he is somewhat open to taking advice that I offer him. The symptom that has most seriously been affecting his training (and his general well being) is the near absence of sleep. He has perpetual muscle "soreness," although it's difficult to ascertain whether the soreness is due to strength training or just general body aches, which actually seems more likely at this point. His training hasn't been advancing much as measured by reps and weight on the bar; the volume has been consistent. On some days when the insomnia has been severe and prolonged across several days, his training performance is negatively affected and he's unable to get through the entire one-hour workout.

    My question is from the programming perspective: how do you best train someone who is in this condition with very low energy, very slow recovery, and at times poor capacity for training? What should the training outcome be? We currently train twice a week and hit exercises such as deadlift, bench, pull-up, and accessories. I'm convinced that the training is good for him both from the physical activity and the social contact that this offers. He at least is maintaining strength through training, and if he didn't come to training with me he wouldn't have any physical activity or social contact. I'll continue pushing him to get professional health for his depression, although I don't see this as likely. Any guidance is appreciated.

  • #2
    Jordan wrote a blog post about his own experiences with this that you may find informative.

    https://www.barbellmedicine.com/blog...g-in-the-dark/

    He was also diagnosed with really bad Obstructive Sleep Disorder around this time, and I understand that getting that treated helped a LOT. So much so that he has all of his new clients fill out a STOP-Bang Questionnaire.

    Beyond that, the best I've got for programming advice, is maybe run a block that's more hypertrophy focused, as these typically are less demanding on recovery resources and may kick start later strength training as they re-sensitize the trainee to future strength focused work, while hopefully maintaining strength or even still achieving strength gains.
    Forum topics and other links I've found useful

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    • #3
      Thanks, that article echoed a lot of the thoughts that I had on the subject.

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      • #4
        Yea I was going to post on this yesterday but I didn’t know how appropriate it would be to use anecdotal evidence for depression. But...

        for me personally I’ve struggled with anxiety, depression, PTSD for a while now. Just know that it’s comes and goes and how long it stays around when it decides to show up is different for everyone. I go to the gym regardless of my mental state and yes, I do go in there to just go through the motions some day because a little bit of something is better than a whole lot of nothing. Especially when it comes to depression. You as a coach should just make sure you are adjusting workouts based on his mood. Because we are not just machines we are people and sometimes shit gets rough and sometimes it stays rough for a bit. You are doing more than you think having him come in there and lifting regardless of how he feels. Just keep on keeping on

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        • #5
          You mentioned that the insomnia has impacted the training negatively; I'm curious to know how this individual feels when training- how it impacts his mental health for his or her subjective point of view (does it make him feel better or worse?). I personally have really bad anxiety; however, I think that my anxiety is at its lowest when I am barbell training. I think you should be commended for doing the best you can to address this issue and suggest that he seeks mental health treatment. good luck.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Flandaneran View Post
            You mentioned that the insomnia has impacted the training negatively; I'm curious to know how this individual feels when training- how it impacts his mental health for his or her subjective point of view (does it make him feel better or worse?). I personally have really bad anxiety; however, I think that my anxiety is at its lowest when I am barbell training. I think you should be commended for doing the best you can to address this issue and suggest that he seeks mental health treatment. good luck.
            Pardon the delay, I just saw that there were replies to this post. He's pretty stubborn about communicating his feelings to me, but I get the sense that he feels marginally better after strength training although I might be conflating this effect with the fact that this gets him out of the house where otherwise he might spend days in the house without leaving. On the other hand, he mentions that he feels horrible by showing up with a bad attitude, sometimes acting despondent, feeling like it's unfair to me to be treating me poorly and this demotivates him in regards to coming to training sessions. This is despite my assurances that I don't give a shit if he's grumpy and that he just needs to train regardless. Hope that helps.

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            • #7
              Your training is good, for now it is better for him to maintain a good physical strength, but keep on pushing him to go to a specialist. Anyway, if he or she doesn't want to go to a psychology, you could suggest them kratom extract. I was going through the same some years ago. I was tired of my life, my work, my place of living, even my family seemed odd to me, I didn't want any help from a specialist and not even a friend, but lucky me, that I got an older sister who kept pushing me further, and one day she just came to my place with this kratom extract, at first I was against it, but after some days of using it, I began to feel more relaxed, stress-free, and everything around me was like it used to be, anyway I moved house and changed my work place, but all of it happened with the help of kratom and my sister.
              Last edited by AbigailRtyne; 12-07-2020, 07:15 PM.

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              • #8
                In about 90% of cases, the cause of the development of affective disorder is acute psychological trauma or chronic stress. Depressions resulting from psychological trauma are called reactive. Reactive disorders are provoked by divorce, death or serious illness of a loved one, disability or serious illness of the patient himself, dismissal, conflicts at work, retirement, bankruptcy, a sharp drop in the level of material security, relocation, etc. If you feel that you are not coping on your own, then I advise depression treatment in adults with the help of specialists.
                Last edited by denyshutt; 05-08-2022, 03:30 PM.

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