My exercise journal

Take this with a bit of caution because I’m not sure if my diagnosis is MAV. I’ve had anxiety disorders most of my life, and when I was in my late teens I developed chronic lightheadedness and tension headaches (I had chronic tension headaches before, but they would go away with neck/back massages). The tension headaches might be a manifestation of migraine I’m not sure, but I definitely had panic attacks almost daily and during my panic attacks my dizziness and lightheadedness would get more extreme. Further I would sometimes get this sensation of passing out that would last for a few seconds, but I never actually fell down or passed out.

Either way, I can sympathize with having chronic lightheadedness, I’ve only gotten vertigo a few times that seems to resolve with epley maneuvers.

So anyway, I’m a little bit afraid of taking anti depressants, so I began researching online viable alternatives to them since I have become depressed and still battle with my anxiety disorders and the chronic lightheadedness. (I’ve been lightheaded now the past 6 years).

I discovered that aerobic exercise temporarily increases serotonin and dopamine and that it stimulates a process known as neurogenesis. That basically vigorous exercise will stimulate your brain to grow new neurons in the hippocampus region of your brain, which has been implicated in the role of mood and memory. A lot of studies I found showed that exercise has comparable efficacy to antidepressants in the treatment of depression and that it might play a positive role with migraines and panic disorder.

My running regiment started off small, but I have since increased it to about 6-7 times a week for 30-40 minutes of jogging. My jogging speed is around 6-6.5 MPH.

I’m on my fifth week of this jogging regiment (I took one week off this past thanksgiving due to vacation) however I read that neurons growing in the hippocampus take about 3-5 weeks to mature and integrate into the network, so I’m just now starting to feel some change. (In the first 4 or so weeks I didn’t really notice much change) so the neurons I’m getting now are probably the ones from a little after the beginning of my running regiment.

I am noticing a difference. I’m finding that I’m thinking more than before because I feel like I have a little bit more motivation to think about things than I used to. Further, I have found my headache pains have reduced slightly, but the main change I’m feeling is that when I go out to say restaurants or with friends etc. etc. with a lot of activity - in the past I would expect to have a panic attack and have my brain feel overwhelmed. I still have the expectation of these overwhelming sensations occurring, but somehow someway my brain isn’t going into overdrive, like I can feel those new neurons kicking in and slowing down my brain’s sensitized pathway. I don’t go into panic lightheaded mode as easily as before, it’s hard to describe but I feel like these new neurons are giving my brain some buffer from the environmental stress.

I will update this journal as I continue to jog, I hope to continue to make progress.


I have also read tons on the benefits of exercise as well. The importance of proper diet and exercise can do more good for people than people realize. You’re just in the beginning stages right now. If you can stay consistant with this program, there’s a good chance you’re gonna beat this MAV without meds. The problem with me is that I’m never consistant enough. The longer you stay consistant, the more likely your brain is going to adapt and eliminate the dizziness. The blood flow increase that is involved with exercise is sooooo good, better than anything else you can do. It’ll definatley help with the lightheadedness. Just stay focused and keep going. Make sure you’re getting plenty of water and the diet is full of the needed nutrients. Great plan!


Well, just thought I’d update today.

I should preface this with the fact that I took a .5 mg xanax the night before, but today I really started to feel better. I was able to drive around and not feel like I was barely conscious and lightheaded. I’m not completely 100%, but the way I feel today is somewhere around 60 or so percent. I’m able to think much clearer, and my headache pain has decreased slightly. This is about 5 and a half weeks in. (Again, having skipped week 4)

Christine posted a fascinating article on Neurogenesis in the Lounge section just a couple of days ago. Well worth a read. It’s subject line is Neurogenesis and Low Serotonin.