Anxiety & Panic attacks post Ride

Apr 1, 2009
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Hey folks,

Lately i havent been feeling the best after my evening spins. Im doing a 180 km Sportive in early July & havent done too much cycling this year, ive done more than your regular Joe if you catch my drift. A few 50 kms early in the year & stuff & a bit on a home turbo. My current plan is during the week i will do an hour on the road & no more & then do a few 3 hour spins on the weeks coming up to the Sportive. I have to work & keep focussed so i wont overdo it during the week.
Anyway in the last few weeks ive noticed that when i get off the bike back at the house i will come in & sit down & can almost not deal with anyone or anything. My body is tired & it feels like im gonna lose my mind. Im become very easily aggitated & its like a panic attack. I have suffered from anxiety & panic attacks in the past but understand what they are etc. I have medication for them if needed sucjh as Lexotan but will not take it unless absolutly necessary. I imagine something like that would be a bad idea after a ride?? Anyway i dont really "overdo it" as i dont flog myself when out cycling. Im just trying to get the kms in for the big day, i do about 22 - 25 kmph on average. Sometimes i put hills in too.
This has made me very on edge about cycling as i dont like feeling that way after & i shudder to think how im gonna feel after the 180 km which is on Saturday 2 weeks. I have done this same Sportive for the last 2 years in a row & have done other big distances before. For some reason in the last few months i just havent been myself after the rides. My health is fine also as just over a month ago i had a full series of blood tests & a checkup with a Doctor & everything was normal. Anybody any advice on this as feeling mentally down & anxious after my cycling is seriously worrying me.

Thanks in advance all.
 
Feb 23, 2010
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Kerbdog said:
Hey folks,

Lately i havent been feeling the best after my evening spins. Im doing a 180 km Sportive in early July & havent done too much cycling this year, ive done more than your regular Joe if you catch my drift. A few 50 kms early in the year & stuff & a bit on a home turbo. My current plan is during the week i will do an hour on the road & no more & then do a few 3 hour spins on the weeks coming up to the Sportive. I have to work & keep focussed so i wont overdo it during the week.
Anyway in the last few weeks ive noticed that when i get off the bike back at the house i will come in & sit down & can almost not deal with anyone or anything. My body is tired & it feels like im gonna lose my mind. Im become very easily aggitated & its like a panic attack. I have suffered from anxiety & panic attacks in the past but understand what they are etc. I have medication for them if needed sucjh as Lexotan but will not take it unless absolutly necessary. I imagine something like that would be a bad idea after a ride?? Anyway i dont really "overdo it" as i dont flog myself when out cycling. Im just trying to get the kms in for the big day, i do about 22 - 25 kmph on average. Sometimes i put hills in too.
This has made me very on edge about cycling as i dont like feeling that way after & i shudder to think how im gonna feel after the 180 km which is on Saturday 2 weeks. I have done this same Sportive for the last 2 years in a row & have done other big distances before. For some reason in the last few months i just havent been myself after the rides. My health is fine also as just over a month ago i had a full series of blood tests & a checkup with a Doctor & everything was normal. Anybody any advice on this as feeling mentally down & anxious after my cycling is seriously worrying me.

Thanks in advance all.
Sorry to hear that. I would guess that the anxiety and panic attacks, if that's precisely what they are, are probably not being caused by the cycling itself.

My experience of them is that they tend to be two things:

a) symptoms rather than the problem itself where exertion could exacerbate them and where drugs may help with managing them, but will ignore the cause.

... and ...

b) psychosomatic - related to something emotional and/or subconscious, to something else the sufferer has often not yet recognised. I'd suggest widening your search for possible causes by examining what else you've been through during the time that you've been suffering - perhaps the root is elsewhere.
 
May 26, 2011
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While one would assume exercise would go far to lessen someone's anxiety, it sounds like you are one of the few that have exercise induced anxiety. There is some evidence to suggest that a build up of lactic acid can trigger a bodily response in those that are anxiety prone already. If you know that about yourself, you can try to spin your legs out as much as possible at the end of your rides. You seem to understand the essence of the disorder so try to own it a little more....talk yourself down when you're feeling like you're starting to lose it. I know, easy to say. Good Luck.
 
How is the traffic situation on your rides?
If your riding style it that you are 'fighting traffic', that can be stressful.

Jay Kosta
Endwell NY USA
- don't sweat the petty things, and don't pet the sweaty things....
 
Apr 1, 2009
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Im out in the Countryside Jay so no traffic problems at all. I just feel once i go over an hour to an hour & a half that im quite mentally down after the ride & need some time to get it all together. Its really bugging me as i was fine the last couple of years.
 
sorry to hear this. My wife had panic attacks years ago and finally got over it for good. Her deal was not all medical/mental. But diet helped... more protein, less sugar. Any chance your deal might be diet related? specially since you mention being really tired after the rides.
 
Feb 23, 2010
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Kerbdog said:
Im out in the Countryside Jay so no traffic problems at all. I just feel once i go over an hour to an hour & a half that im quite mentally down after the ride & need some time to get it all together. Its really bugging me as i was fine the last couple of years.
Try to look for patterns leading up to the symptoms. The idea is to attempt to isolate the factors required to trigger them. You're already looking at this, but as I said above, it might be good to widen your enquiry a bit.

Do you have these symptoms after, say, a hard day's work? After perhaps not eating enough? Also if you were to go out for a short, hard run one day - an intense but different sort of physical effort - does it happen after that?

Have you shared this with friends / loved ones / fellow riders? This is because another practical suggestion is to try ending your ride elsewhere - at a trusted friend's place, for example. To see if you feel the symptoms happening there, not just at your place. Sometimes these things can be triggered by your sense of environment.

This all might sound odd, but given that your physical condition is outwardly normal, you might want to start looking for other clues. The existence of such clues will either tend toward other possible explanations or else the lack of them will point once more to physical health and prompt more medical checks. :)
 
May 20, 2010
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Hi Bro, I empathise.

Dealing with the symptoms is a start. Identifying the cause is another kettle of fish...obviously...but also really important (as alluded to by L'arriviste).

Try riding the last half hour of your longer rides with a confidante. After the ride sit down with them and go through how you feel, how you felt during the ride, what were you thinking about during the ride, as you got fatigued and how did that make you feel...

Really explore your thoughts and the resulting feelings....

Hope you are able to get some insight.

Best wishes js
 
Feb 16, 2011
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I could have misinterpreted something you said there about keeping focused and having to work, but do you feel your training is eating into your work hours or tasks and compromising your focus?

Sometimes I feel that lack of balance where my responsibilities take over and if give too much time to myself or have spent a few dollars on bike gear instead something essential, I feel a bit anxious.

Could be barking up the wrong tree.
 
Jun 16, 2011
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Alpechraxler said:
The panic could also be related to a mild hypoglycaemia and its counterregulation.
+1. A rider needs calories before, after and usually during a ride. Even an hour ride, at a fast pace, requires some food before and maybe during, especially if the riding occurs between meals, under hot weather conditions, etc. In this regard, low blood sugar may mimic panic (see Symptoms section: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001423/). If course, this condition may be unrelated to your own - something you and your medical professional could discuss.
 
Aug 4, 2009
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I know of a guy with similar issues he wont ride in traffic he drives out to country then rides hard for two to three hours. recons the adrenilin fix cures him.
 
May 22, 2010
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Kerbdog, i have suffered from a very similar ailment over a significant period of my life. although i'm not a doctor - and you should see one, the various advice in this thread is obviously not professional - i can relate my similar experiences.

it took me many years to be diagnosed with anxiety disorder. as a youth, i was normal enough for no one to notice (including me), but with some convergent pressures at a period of my adult life, the symptoms were exacerbated to the point where i needed urgent medical help. most people don't suffer from anxiety and think you just can't cope with life, but they don't have a clue. the solution for me was anti-depressant medication - it is stunningly effective. i found therapy also very helpful, but it is very costly.

as i'm told, the causes of anxiety (and depression) relate to events and experiences in your life that fester in the back of your mind. no point going into detail here, but i would have serious doubts about the effectiveness of measures like changes in nutritional intake and other marginal measures (although they can be good advice, for separate reasons). i would suggest some people are also just more prone to anxiety.

vigorous exercise also exacerbated my anxiety. this is lay advice of course, but my understanding is that anxiety symptoms (as opposed to the underlying causes) are learnt behaviour. in my case also, exercise would trigger them. i tried all sort of things - deep breathing, pushing through it, etc. and nothing would prevent that.

i have been on and off medication but am taking it again as it improves my quality of life out of sight. people have preconceptions about it, a mate of mine tried to convince me to "just snap out of it" which is hilarious if you've experienced it. i've spent months trying to fight it off - which ruins your life for that period - before succumbing to taking medication.

anyway, see your doctor. btw i'm now doing 300km a week and feel 10 years younger - i'm ripping it up on the bike. it should be on the WADA list of prohibited substances :)
 
As suggested earlier - make sure you've had enough food & water.

For my morning 2 hour ride, I eat about 300 calories of 'fig bars' an hour before, and drink regular Gatorade G2 during the ride.
When I get home I immediately have some protein and more sugared drink.
And, yes, I am tired for the rest of the day....

Back when I was younger (now 62), I didn't need to be careful about food, and just plain water was fine.
But now I need to be more attentive to nutrition and hydration.

Jay Kosta
Endwell NY USA
 
Oct 12, 2010
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Anxiety

delbified (and Kerbdog)

delbified said:
Kerbdog, i have suffered from a very similar ailment over a significant period of my life. although i'm not a doctor - and you should see one, the various advice in this thread is obviously not professional - i can relate my similar experiences.
Me too.

delbified said:
no point going into detail here, but i would have serious doubts about the effectiveness of measures like changes in nutritional intake and other marginal measures (although they can be good advice, for separate reasons). i would suggest some people are also just more prone to anxiety.
Nutrition is still important, especially making sure enough calories are consumed to fuel the ride, and to help with recovery. You don't want to provoke an anxiety attack when an answer could be as simple as calorie intake on a long ride and immediately after it.

delbified said:
vigorous exercise also exacerbated my anxiety. this is lay advice of course, but my understanding is that anxiety symptoms (as opposed to the underlying causes) are learnt behaviour. in my case also, exercise would trigger them. i tried all sort of things - deep breathing, pushing through it, etc. and nothing would prevent that.
Absolutely does! My doctor and a research psych I saw (too long a story to explain) said that anxiety attacks mimic the effects of physical exertion - so, when you ride: heart rate goes up, adrenaline, breathing rate increases, etc. So, your body sends very similar signals to your brain and to your limbs, but it's how you interpret those signals that counts.

delbified said:
people have preconceptions about it, a mate of mine tried to convince me to "just snap out of it" which is hilarious if you've experienced it. i've spent months trying to fight it off - which ruins your life for that period - before succumbing to taking medication.
Yep, so unhelpful for people to say, "Just snap out of it". Wouldn't we all like to do that! Succumbing to meds - sounds a bit negative; taking advantage of medication - that's more like it. Glad they're working for you.

delbified said:
anyway, see your doctor.
Good advice. There are good websites too - http://www.beyondblue.org.au/index.aspx? (for Australia).
 
Apr 1, 2009
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Cheers for all the replies folks. Some interesting viewpoints & possible solutions. For now im going to focus on the diet side of things before, during & after cycling. As i said earlier my main worry is the slump directly after getting off the bike & the hour or two after it. It never really happened before but arose lately.
 
Oct 12, 2010
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Hope it works

Kerbdog,

Kerbdog said:
Cheers for all the replies folks. Some interesting viewpoints & possible solutions. For now im going to focus on the diet side of things before, during & after cycling. As i said earlier my main worry is the slump directly after getting off the bike & the hour or two after it. It never really happened before but arose lately.
Sounds like a good approach. Hope it works for you. Let us know how it goes.
 
Kerbdog said:
Im out in the Countryside Jay so no traffic problems at all. I just feel once i go over an hour to an hour & a half that im quite mentally down after the ride & need some time to get it all together. Its really bugging me as i was fine the last couple of years.
not sure about the panic attacks, but I find that sometimes when I ride I go through times where things get negative. Riding solo with just an ipod, the mind wanders. There are times that I can get very negative, but at some point during the ride that changes. Are you maybe stopping when things are towards the negative? Perhaps, you need to ride beyond that hour and a half for things to improve? Thus getting off the bike when you're feeling good about the ride and feeling good in general?
 
Apr 1, 2009
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Well folks i rode for an hour & 46 minutes on Saturday evening, felt good after it. Had a nice protein shake & watched the TV. Went to bed fine. Got up around 10 AM on Sunday morning & rode for 2 hours & 40 minutes. Came back & had food etc & went to lie down. Muscles felt fine but i just couldnt switch off inside. It drove me mad as the day went on. Had a few beers that evening to help me drift off etc. Was extremely tired yesterday, dont know how i made it through work. Anyway felt better today but have had a desperate headache on the right side of my head almost all day. Im going through the roof with bad feelings over this. I feel thoroughly wretched & cant wait to get home. Thinking of just forgetting the bike.
WTF is this all about?
 
Feb 23, 2010
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Kerbdog said:
Well folks i rode for an hour & 46 minutes on Saturday evening, felt good after it. Had a nice protein shake & watched the TV. Went to bed fine. Got up around 10 AM on Sunday morning & rode for 2 hours & 40 minutes. Came back & had food etc & went to lie down. Muscles felt fine but i just couldnt switch off inside. It drove me mad as the day went on. Had a few beers that evening to help me drift off etc. Was extremely tired yesterday, dont know how i made it through work. Anyway felt better today but have had a desperate headache on the right side of my head almost all day. Im going through the roof with bad feelings over this. I feel thoroughly wretched & cant wait to get home. Thinking of just forgetting the bike.
WTF is this all about?
If you can, take a week off the bike. Do other things, preferably with people you know. Try other types of exercise such as running. Keep an open mind about the symptoms - associating symptoms with something specific can sometimes mask the real source of the problem - and try not to come to conclusions without examining everything else you've got going on right now.

Come back to the bike after a week or so, without big expectations of maintaining or losing performance, just to try it out.

If the symptoms have meanwhile continued throughout the week, even though you're not riding, then to coin a phrase it's not about the bike.

In the meantime your headache - being on the one side - is almost certainly due to tension caused by clenching your jaw, something that many people don't even realise they're doing, particularly at stressful times and most often during the night. So press firmly on the right side and just above the jawbone at the point just before it reaches the chin. If it's tender or hurts a bit, that's a sign of the cause of your headache. Massage it firmly and your headache will diminish temporarily. You will probably need to drop the tension levels to get rid of it altogether.
 
May 22, 2010
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Kerbdog said:
Was extremely tired yesterday, dont know how i made it through work. Anyway felt better today but have had a desperate headache on the right side of my head almost all day. Im going through the roof with bad feelings over this. I feel thoroughly wretched & cant wait to get home. Thinking of just forgetting the bike.
WTF is this all about?
KD, these are stock-standard symptoms of anxiety. it is a mental illness, in many ways no different to breaking your arm, except you can't see it.

the root cause is usually some source of worry or dissatisfaction in your life - this is your brain's way of telling you all is not good. you cannot solve it with protein shakes and alcohol is known to only make it worse.

please see a doctor. anxiety is very common, but people don't like to admit that they suffer from it. it's perfectly treatable but it's unlikely to just go away on it's own.
 
About the headache -
I sometimes get a severe headache pain directly behind one or both of my eyes.
It can also involve a painful neckache.

For ME, I have found that over-the-counter "Sinus Headache" medication works well to relieve the pain.

I think that seasonal allergy and also weather conditions (hi/lo pressure?) can cause the headaches.

Jay Kosta
Endwell NY USA
 
WTF? Headaches? Anxiety? Depression?

DUDE! Get some water into you, carb up at 10g of carbs per kg of bodyweight per day and get to bed at a decent hour (8-9pm is optimum).

Using meds to treat symptoms whilst your ignoring the cause is like changing a flat without pulling out the glass/wire/thorn lol!

Drink enough water so your pizzing clear and at least every 2 hours. Use a half gallon empty juice bottle at night like the pro's do. Live like a champion.
 
Jan 3, 2020
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Anxiety and difficulty breathing is probably one of the most distressing symptoms that people experience when they are undergoing times of emotional distress. If you’re like some people, you’ve experienced anxiety and difficulty breathing at some point in your life. When you’re having a fight or flight response to a stressful situation, difficulty breathing is rather common. However, if you struggle with anxiety and difficulty breathing on a regular basis, you may need to take some steps to solve the problem. Here are steps I would suggest you take if you’re struggling with anxiety and difficulty breathing: seek help from a doctor or a pharmacy. Even if you’re pretty sure your anxiety and difficulty breathing problems are related to chronic or acute anxiety, you should still see your doctor to rule out underlying conditions. Many people who struggle to breathe when they’re anxious have no physical problems to cause the issue, but some do have an underlying condition that’s just being made worse by the effects of anxiety on the body. Be sure to describe to your doctor exactly what the breathing difficulty feels like so he or she can run tests to ensure that it is not a problem like bronchitis, croup, heart failure, allergies, or even just lack of exercise that’s giving you trouble breathing whenever you get moderate amounts of exercise.
 
Jan 4, 2020
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Anxiety and difficulty breathing is probably one of the most distressing symptoms that people experience when they are undergoing times of emotional distress. If you’re like some people, you’ve experienced anxiety and difficulty breathing at some point in your life. When you’re having a fight or flight response to a stressful situation, difficulty breathing is rather common. However, if you struggle with anxiety and difficulty breathing on a regular basis, you may need to take some steps to solve the problem. Here are steps I would suggest you take if you’re struggling with anxiety and difficulty breathing: seek help from a doctor or a pharmacy. Even if you’re pretty sure your anxiety and difficulty breathing problems are related to chronic or acute anxiety, you should still see your doctor to rule out underlying conditions. Many people who struggle to breathe when they’re anxious have no physical problems to cause the issue, but some do have an underlying condition that’s just being made worse by the effects of anxiety on the body. Be sure to describe to your doctor exactly what the breathing difficulty feels like so he or she can run tests to ensure that it is not a problem like bronchitis, croup, heart failure, allergies, or even just lack of exercise that’s giving you trouble breathing whenever you get moderate amounts of exercise.
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