The only World Champion and Internationally Acclaimed Psychologist, Performance Therapist, author, world wide lecturer specialising in strength & power sports - we prove it, not theorise

Post Comp Depression

Post competition Depression
Some of you, if you happen to be lucky or possibly not that much of a cerebral use, may never have experienced this, but for those of us that have, if can be debilitating, distressing and make us wonder for a short while if we will compete again along with our lives falling down around our ears and alienating every loved one we ever had.

Good, now we have all that out of the way.

Post Competition Depression is a syndrome which occurs after the build up to and execution of an event you were preparing to peak and perform for.

After all the weeks months and possibly years or preparation, drive, determination and effort that has gone into a pre competition cycle, all your sights and direction are towards that one event.
It usually manifests itself in the form of post competition lethargy to a degree, a drop in performance for the short term, irritability, difficulty in communication or reluctance, problems with simple processing tasks eg “I just cant think” and a tiredness on a physical and mental basis.
You will also have a change in chemistry as well.

For those who have been following my articles, will know that our thought processes and “what” we think and feel will dictate what part of the brain we are using and therefore the chemical and hormonal reaction.

So, if you have been having directed thinking about a specific challenge/task/competition and building up to that, the combination of different thoughts will probably have produced a really good graduated increase of adrenal function. Hadnt you noticed the closer it came to the competition, the palpitations or raised heart rate, the heightened sense of awareness either in a positive or negative way?
So this all builds physically and accordingly, mentally over that period of time as your body, directed by your brain, prepares for that one ultimate state of readiness.

And then, suddenly, its over.

Suddenly – everything you have been working for, training for, thinking about, pushing yourself to the limit for is done – finished – over.

Lets put this in perspective – on a really unemotional functional level, all that is now happening is that there will be a change in the physiology as the body is no longer preparing for a state of “readiness” so that heightened adrenal function will drop causing a feeling of “sluggishness” and possible fatigue. Also – the heightened sense of awareness and that sharpness you had will also reduce to a lower level before it returns to normal.

Now the physical stuff will usually take around 1 to 2 weeks to return to a normal balance but will also help if the psychological approach is dealt with as well – which is, well, the reason I am writing this.
So lets get all fluffy for a moment. Emotionally you can either go through a feeling of emptiness or swing the other way and have an array of emotions or be “emotional”.

From a cognitive aspect your ability to “process information” may be difficult and simple tasks may also seem like you are having to wade through cotton wool to work things out.
Irritability and a few moods swings thrown in there make you generally a delightful person to be around and an over “cant be arsed” state of mind may follow.

Now – just remember this is caused by actual physical chemical and hormonal changes but ALSO this is contributed to by the change in focus and therefore brain function.

To lessen the symptoms there is a check of things to do. I’m not going to say it will stop it happening but it will be easier to manage and the symptoms will dull down and in a couple of weeks you will be motoring again!

1) Accept it happens. Acceptance is the best starting point to make change. I am not suggesting that because you “expect it to happen” then it will. What I am suggesting is that by being aware you MAY feel like this you have a way to overcome it.

2) Ideally before the next competition, have a date for the next competition after that and map out a training strategy for it in a logical format. If that isn’t possible because it is maybe a qualifier etc, then identify a “plan B” so that you have a focus as soon as you compete. This will keep the focus and help you feel less in a void post competition.

3) Put in place “boundaries” prior to competing. IE make others aware you might need a week or so to recover and may not be enthusiastic about engaging in certain things. This gives you time out to allow balances to settle.

4) Plan something for after the competition that you will feel “alive” with. In other words something which might help to raise the adrenalin a little so that you don’t crash and gives you an additional focal point.

5) Be aware that irritability and moods swings might occur so either forewarn others or remove yourself from situations you might regret! If neither is possible – even just being aware that it might happen allows you an element of control over it and you will be more likely to recognise it if happens and therefore control it better.
6) You may go into a negative spiral as well and start to dissect your performance. At this point focus on what you WANT to achieve now and the steps you will take to achieve it. While you are in this state of mind don’t even think about rationally deconstructing your performance as it wont work and you unlikely to be objective. Either let others do that or WAIT until you are through this and more level.

7) Your immune system may also be at a low ebb as remember your entire physiological state has been wound tight like a spring waiting for the moment of performance. Try and supplement with Vit C, Zinc, Vit E and anything else you feel may help your immune system.

8) Failing all that, lock yourself in a darkened room with your protein shakes and don’t come out for 2 weeks.

This is something which is rarely discussed but affects many of us and that’s me included in this. Yes, we usually just get on with it but would it be easier if we understood what it was and were able to deal it to smooth the passage between one competition and the next through a little better?

Remember that the better you get, the more the pressure will increase and so the more the possibility this might happen as it becomes more serious.

You right to compete and achieve those dreams you always thought were untouchable are yours in reality and you can make them happen with the determination, discipline, drive and focus that has got you this far.
Remember – its not just about the competition, its about everything else that surrounds it and that includes what happens post competition to push you onto the next stage and the next level up.