Bipolar Disorder: Exercise & Hypomania

Song of the Day: Never Let Me Go by Florence & the Machine (I’m unlikely to shut up about F&TM in the next few weeks, so apologies in advance).

(Photo Credit: kohane available under a Creative Commons Licence.)

It is common knowledge that exercise is very helpful in the treatment of depression, and this had proven true in my experience. But what about the effects on Hypomania? Does anyone else find that exercise can instigate a hypomanic episode?

Two years ago I was regularly going to the gym and found that within a couple of weeks I was hypomanic. Nothing too major, but enough to get the euphoria into overdrive. Guess it’s the effects of the endorphins. I got pretty obsessive about going too.

Today was only my second day back and whilst walking home I felt the familiar waves of hypomanic overconfidence and energy bursting through me. Don’t get me wrong this is a great feeling, but it always makes me a bit nervous coz I know it’s not “real” in a sense and that nasty things can follow- depression, angry outbursts etc. If I’m feeling this on only my second day back at the gym, I’m wary of what the next few weeks will bring. I think as long as I rest at home and stay pretty relaxed I should be OK. Not too much drinking for me!

I was at the gym for yoga today. Despite a break of a year and a half I did really well, but I guess I have kept it up a bit at home. It really is fantastic for relaxation and my thigh muscles don’t half groan at me the morning after. Only wish the dancing classes were still on offer there.

It’s my birthday in two weeks so we’re gonna go for a spa day at Center Parcs. Can hardly wait. Whale watching in Alaska or New Zealand would be nice, but think that might have to wait a few years!


6 thoughts on “Bipolar Disorder: Exercise & Hypomania

  1. Sandy Sue

    This is really interesting. My experience with exercise is that it helps blow off the agitation of hypomania and smoothes me out. I love how aware and observant you are about this process. Keep us informed!

  2. Candida Abrahamson PhD

    What you have observed for yourself as the healing power of exercise in bipolar disorder is actually well-documented, so keep it up! If you’re interested, I just did an entry on the research behind the healing capacity of exercise in bipolar. So, as Mae West would say, “Any time you got nothing to do – and lots of time to do it – come on up”: Be well, Candida

    1. rachelmiller1511 Post author

      Thank you very much for your reply and for the link. Exercise can be a real help- it’s just about motivation most of the time!! Also finding something that’s fun. My only concern is when I get a bit obsessive, then I do tend to get a bit manic! The right type of exercise can help here and I guess I need to switch more from high-energy cardio activities to gentler forms like walking and yoga. It’s an interesting area to learn about.

      Thanks again.


      1. madmum

        This is really interesting, i am more prone to hypomnia than depression and certainly can put myself into a high by exercise. when I know I am high i have to stop all exercise including yoga/stretching. I can only do swimming!

      2. rachelmiller1511 Post author

        Wow! Usually yoga will calm me down, but the class I go to is Hatha Yoga, so pretty gentle and relaxed.

        Yeah, if I spend too much time doing any cardio I just end up hyper- well regular gym sessions a few times a week is enough to kick it off. Then I end up getting really obsessive about going!

        Interesting how we adjust types of exercise to our mood.

        Thanks so much for reading & commenting.

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