Overtraining Syndrome Subtypes

There is a general rise in emotional state with exercise, but Overtraining can lead to Overtraining Syndrome and a dramatic decline in emotional health.

Overtraining Syndrome has been categorized into subtypes based on the associated symptoms[1]. The subtypes are similar to those seen in the DSM adjustment disorder and Major Depression. These categories can help us understand Overtraining Syndrome, even though there is no clearly defined separation.


1 Overreaching

Some writers distinguish between 'Overreaching' (AKA 'non-functional overreaching') and 'Overtraining Syndrome based on the time it takes to recover. The writers define overreaching as taking between a few days and two weeks[2][3]. Overtraining Syndrome is then defined as a recovery period of at least two weeks[2], but often months[3] and sometimes years[4]. However, this categorization does not seem useful, as there are no other distinctions other than recovery period.

2 Overtraining with depression

Overtraining Syndrome has similarities with clinical depression[5][4][6]. There are several signs, symptoms, brain structures, newer transmitters, endocrine pathway dysfunctions, and immune system responses that are shared between Overtraining Syndrome and major depression[4][6]. There are reports of successfully treating Overtraining Syndrome with serotonergic antidepressants[6] and SSRI antidepressants [4]. Alberto Salazar returned to competitive racing after 10 years of disabling Overtraining Syndrome after taking Prozac[4]. It could be argued that OTS and Major Depression are actually the same illness[6]. Exercise tends to protect against depression and other mental illnesses, but that does not give athletes complete immunity[6]. These benefits is somewhat undermined by the fact that athletes tend to be even more susceptible to undue diagnosis and inadequate treatment for depression and other mental illnesses[6]. Of course, due to the complexities of diagnosing Overtraining Syndrome, the possibility that an athlete is suffering from clinical depression rather than Overtraining Syndrome must always be considered.

3 Overtraining with anxiety or anxiety with depression

Overtraining Syndrome is assocated with mood changes[7] [8], including anxiety[9]. This mixture of depression and anxiety can cause the athlete to feel significantly nervous, jittery, or worried and may feel tearful or hopeless at times[10].

4 Overtraining with disturbances of conduct

Overtrained athletes commonly exhibit irritability, decreased motivation, and cynicism towards their sport, and for many this can manifest as behavioral difficulties in interpersonal relationships[1]. This can even result in reckless and abusive behavior[1].

5 Overtraining with mixed disturbances of emotions and conduct

This subtype combines aspects of the disturbances of mood with the disturbances of conduct. As well as depression and anxiety, the athlete may show signs of anger and hostility, with violent outbursts and difficult interpersonal relationships[1].

6 Sympathetic and parasympathetic overtraining

Some authorities separate Overtraining Syndrome into two types; sympathetic and parasympathetic. However there does not seem to be significant support for this classification[2].

7 Volume, Intensity, Aerobic and Anaerobic

It has been suggested that Overtraining Syndrome with high-volume is different to Overtraining Syndrome with high intensity[4]. Likewise, it is been suggested that aerobic and anaerobic sports have different characteristics of Overtraining Syndrome[2]. However support for the segregation is largely anecdotal.

8 References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Taylor & Francis Online :: Adjustment Disorder: a new way of conceptualizing the overtraining syndrome - International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology - Volume 2, Issue 2 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17509840903110962
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Physiological Perspective of Endurance Overtraining – A Comprehensive Update http://ajms.alameenmedical.org/article_vol05-1-jan-mar-2012/AJMS.5.1.2012%20P%207-20.pdf
  3. 3.0 3.1 Prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the Overtraining Syndrome http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/tandf/tejs/2006/00000006/00000001/art00001
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 The unknown mechanism of the overtraining syndrom... [Sports Med. 2002] - PubMed - NCBI http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11839081
  5. Monitoring and titrating symptoms : a science-bas... [Sports Med. 2007] - PubMed - NCBI http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17465621
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 The stigmatisation and denial of mental illness in athletes -- Schwenk 34 (1): 4 -- British Journal of Sports Medicine http://www.msscentershop.info/content/34/1/4.extract
  7. Mood states as an indication of staleness and recovery - UQ eSpace http://espace.library.uq.edu.au/view/UQ:57590
  8. Psychological and immunological correlates of acute overtraining. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1332084/
  9. Signs of overload after an intensified trai... [Int J Sports Med. 2011] - PubMed - NCBI http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21380974
  10. Adjustment Disorder with Mixed Anxiety and Depressed Mood http://us-md.com/cms/medical-info/medical-information/10-adjustment-disorder-with-mixed-anxiety-and-depressed-mood.html