You’ve heard it a million times. If you’d only exercise, you could fight depression the natural way. Running is my therapy! If I couldn’t run, I’d go nuts. While this sounds appealing, it’s not true. In fact, it’s dangerously misleading.
Yes, any kind of regular exercise gives you a boost in your happy chemicals, but as far as making the difference between you being
nuts or not, that’s a far cry from the truth. Running is certainly cheaper than therapy, and it comes with more benefits, but life isn’t that simple. The idea of the old trope I’ve heard of
You’ll never need a psychiatrist if you have a good running buddy is not only false, it’s dangerous.
Referring to running as some kind of
therapy is one thing. It can still be misleading, but I can see it being a release. Actually saying that you should choose running over professional help if you need it is something else, and it could lead to not getting help when you need it and letting it get worse. It’s much like the Scientologists’ ideas that have led a number of people to go off medications they need. This could lead to suicide, threatening behavior towards others, and various other issues. It’s completely unaware of the facts.
I understand that these people aren’t literally saying choose your running buddy over a psychiatrist if you’re feeling suicidal. But it can easily be taken that way, and it’s another way of saying you’re weak if you can’t take it on your own. And don’t get me wrong, I love running, but it can only do so much. I’ve been there, dependent on the runner’s high until it just wasn’t enough.
For some of us, there is damage running just can’t heal, even if you have the best running buddy in the world. Suggesting that it’s more than that is a disservice to runners and the mentally ill. It trivializes serious problems. When dealing with the truly dark stuff, you shouldn’t be trying to get by with the bare minimum. You should be getting down to the root now before you’re in the hospital after your latest suicide attempt, or worse, you’re dead.