25 October 2009

Cycling and depression: some good news

Thanks to all those people who responded with personal experiences of how cycling has helped them cope with depression, following a recent post. (I'm writing up an article on the subject for a cycling magazine.)

Simply put, the article will make the following points, among others:
* Exercise is always good, because you can self-medicate, it's effective, and you can't overdose in a dangerous way
* Cycling (by yourself or in a group) is especially good because it enables you to control the social interactions to suit you: lots, none, or any stage in between
* Cycling also re-establishes a control zone: you can set targets and tick-lists to suit you, and feel you've achieved something with the day
* There should be no stigma: in practice, depression affects everyone in the western world at some point, either directly 'on' oneself, or through someone close to you

I have a feeling there's a book in this. (Probably with more potential than a follow-up to 50QBR, anyway.)

But finally... it annoys me how every popular article I've read on depression seems keen to list famous sufferers (Einstein, Churchill, Adam Ant etc. Don't they realise - and I'm being quite serious here - that this news actually makes you feel worse if you're depressed? Because you think, dammit, if only I could bat like Marcus Trescothick, or bluster my way up like Alistair Campbell, or write symphonies like Malcolm Arnold, at least I've have some talent to call on, instead of being stuck here trying to work out if it's worth getting up. I'm not saying that's right, or wrong, and it isn't meant to be funny: it's how it is.

So in my article I desisted. Anyway, if I'd found any famous cyclists that had suffered from depression, that would rather have defeated the object.


  1. "you can't overdose in a dangerous way"

    It is possible to become mildly addicted to endorphins created during exercise, as well as the compulsive possibilities.

  2. Camden and Islington mental health trust have just started some solid research into this. They've already got a bike maintenance workshop and cycle training for service users.

  3. Thank you for this "article" on depression and biking. I absolutely loved what you said about other articles citing famous people who were depressed. I also get sooo frustrated with that. I chronically cycle with depression, and I often feel that if I had one thing I was really good at I would have something to hold onto instead of a nothingness; just empty air.

  4. Great article on depression and cycling i have always loved cycling because it makes me feel free and alive and keeps me fit .I was recently diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and have been using cycling to beat the depression .