Couch to 5K
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Brain Cooties Stop Play

I guess this is addressed to a minority of C25K members, but...

My antidepressants seem to have gradually stopped working over the last few months (at least that's the combined best guess of my GP and me) and the dreaded brain cooties have set in: I have felt less and less inclined to do any kind of cardio exercise, let alone running, and very little in life gives me pleasure. It's a crappy state to be in and it would almost be better if I had the 'sobbing on the kitchen floor' type depression because then at least I'd feel something, even if that something was sucky to the extreme.

I just wondered whether this massive truckload of anhedonia and apathy had hit anybody else? How did you go back to running? Did you have to make an effort to begin with?

Exercise is supposed to help with head mess but I stopped getting the endorphin rush a few months ago (which probably coincided with the gentle decline into blah), so it became something I did because I needed to use it or lose it, rather than something I did because I loved it, which I used to.


8 Replies

I'm sorry I hope you and your doc can get the right balance again. I don't have brain cooties so I am not much help there, but I do have stressful situations at home that take the wind from under me. I find that starting with a walk is better than pushing for a full out run when I'm feeling like that, sometimes that helps to clear my head a bit and then the next time I'm in a better place to try for a run. Sometimes, for me the fact I made it out the door when I really didn't feel like it gives my day a more positive spin.

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Oh you poor sausage. What a horrible place to be in. I can't offer any firsthand advice because the only time I had depression was before I started running and the cause was directly traceable to my work environment at the time. It sounds daft now, but I turned the corner after i bought a bowl of hyacinth bulbs for my desk. Every day I anticipated the moment when they would finally blossom and I could smell their heady scent. Eventually, after about six weeks, the flowers came out and the perfume was overwhelming and I knew I was going to be ok.

What I'm trying to say, I guess, is that I gave myself something, however tiny, to look forward to. It wasn't much but I could see results every day. The bulb shoots slowly got bigger and greener and then the flower colour started to appear bit by bit. I know this is all very simplistic but could you possibly try something similar with running? Set yourself a goal, a race to enter maybe or a distance to achieve? Then, as you work towards it, and start seeing results, you may find you start to feel better.

I really hope you find something to help soon, Sweetie. In the meantime, keep posting regularly. We're here for you, sending out great big cyber hugs and healing thoughts to buoy you up. That's the best thing about this forum. It's like running with a big group of friends who cheer your successes and carry you on their shoulders when you think all is lost. x


Being buoyed up by cyber hugs and lithium is good. (Being kept afloat by the lithium that got added to the mix when my postnatal depression after no. 2 didn't resolve, despite the near-inpatient dose of antiDs that I was on before, during and after the pregnancy (I'm a lifer on the psych meds). Hormones + neurotransmitter fail = goodnight, Vienna.)


Oh my goodness, that's some serious pharmacology you've got going on there! My experiences are totally trivial in comparison. It's easy to assume we understand what someone else is going through but the reality is that we can't. I'm so sorry.

I really hope they manage to get your meds balanced soon. I did mean what I said though. Keep posting, we are here for you x


I have only indirect experience of depression, but I know enough to know that just finding some way to cheer up is probably not going to cut if for you. From what I've seen, what you might need is a new mix of meds just to give you a platform to build the "cheer up" type measures you can't take when you're out flat. So if you haven't done this yet, a visit to your psychiatrist (and maybe another for a second opinion if that's not helping) is the first step. And if the solution offered doesn't work quite soon, go back soon. Keep them working on your problem. Don't let it just settle down there.

I think maybe you should just stick to the running with no expectations of perceiving the good effects for you. Just go and put one foot after the other. I know that's easy to say for someone not suffering from depression, but you are still capable of mind over matter. Just change your motivator, that's all. You had the joy motivator; that's let you down; so just go with the knowledge motivator. In all sorts of ways, even if you don't feel it, your running is going to help you with your depression. It could even be that you got "too much of a kick" out of it, once the endorphins appeared. One thing your body hates is imbalance, and that includes too much feel-good, so it might have damped your perception down a bit. (Completely amateur ill-informed idea, that, but there does seem to sometimes be an element of homeostasis at work; just that the homeostasis isn't nicely tuned, so from high you get plunged right down into low). Yes, anyway, these kinds of things you need to be discussing with your psychiatrist sooner rather than later. It's not going to just get better if you leave it be. (As you probably know by now).

I hope you find yourself a more bouyant even keel soon. And you probably be will, once you've made the right adjustment.

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It sounds like running might have become another one of those chores you have to do, I can empathise with that and i eventually used the running to beat myself up cos that's what I have a bad habit of doing with most things in my life. (Sorry to start on such a downer but I want to be honest)

I've had depression before and am currently being checked for other mental health conditions- scary times! Anyway, I've started running again but with different expectations. I'm doing an Asics Plan which tells me how far and at what pace I'm to run which has taken away some of the ways I used to beat myself up with running. I'm not normally an advocate for self help books, but Brene Brown's, Daring Greatly really helped kick start me on the road to being kinder to myself. I'm also in psychotherapy, is a talking therapy worth a conversation with your gp about? In the beginning I hated it, but it was an appointment I had to keep every week and got me out the house which I think helped me be more open to going running.

I know I've talked about myself a lot in this post, it's because I don't want to assume that what has helped me will be right for you, but I want to share in case it might help in some way.

No matter what happens with the running in the short term, I hope you're kind to yourself and find a path that's right for you and if you ever need to talk then we're here for you and feel free to pm me.

Best wishes xxx


Yours is a really important post - running isn't a cure-all even if it is brilliant (one of the most poorly people I encountered professionally went for a run every morning... quite possibly he would have been even more poorly without... it was a little hard to manage on a section though!)

I hope that as well as the pharmacology tweaks you are getting other good therapies too. Like others, my guess would be that the 'getting outsideness' is way more important for you now than the cardio-ness of running.

You have some big advantages there: you've done the programme, you graduated, you understand the value of structure and you are very articulate and understand what is going on for you, and you are talking to us. Also, you've had the experience of a degree of recovery before.

Good luck!


I think an unfortunate truth about motivation, or lack of it, is that there is no magic pill, you just have to do it. If you wait for 'this' to be in place or 'that' to be in place before you do anything, you could be waiting for Godot.

I totally lost my mojo for running some time ago although I wasn't depressed. I absolutely couldn't face it, the very thought of getting out there filled me with dread but I knew motivation wouldn't magically return without effort, which is tough when you're depressed.

But I knew, like you said, I had to use it or lose it so I just kept going, didn't think too hard about it, trainers on, out the door, GO. 10 mins here, 5 mins there, then 15, then a bit more until eventually I was doing it coz I wanted to again.

I don't want to undermine your distress hose, but I really would try not to think too much about doing it and just do it! The apathy and anhedonia may accompany you for a few runs but you may also shake them off after a while.

Good luck.


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