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How Weight Lifting Helps Me Manage the Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia

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One of the most powerful schizophrenia antipsychotic treatments I have found for negative symptoms is weight lifting. In the past, I have also talked about how a pragmatic low-carbohydrate diet is great for reducing symptoms naturally. In my experience, however, low-carbohydrate diets generally reduce positive symptoms, not negative symptoms. Over the years I received treatment from multiple psychiatrists. It seems to be a continual struggle for them to find ways to reduce my negative symptoms. I’m certain if any doctors treating psychosis are reading this, they’ve experienced the same challenges.

Here’s what this scientific paper had to say about negative symptoms in schizophrenia:

“…no pharmacologic treatment for negative symptoms has proven to have sufficient evidence to support a recommendation, indicating a significant unmet need for important treatment in this area.”

So at this point, we know two things about negative symptoms in schizophrenia. One, negative symptoms are the most pervasive and debilitating symptoms in schizophrenia. Two, they are extremely difficult to treat, and there is a significant unmet need in treatment for negative symptoms.

Weight lifting as a schizophrenia antipsychotic transformed my life

My life completely transformed when I began to understand and see the benefits of weight lifting. I went from what I call a “no-life video gamer” into a physically fit web developer. Someone with an active social life and intimate relationship. Things I previously assumed was never possible. Previously, I was content with working as a part-time grocer living with my parents and playing video games. In less than a year, I became a person with his dreams being fulfilled. A person making ambitious goals (and sometimes accomplished!). I established myself as a valuable member of the communities I engage in.

In my post about why I think schizophrenic men should be bodybuilders, I go into more detail about why I think bodybuilding is so good for us. Motivation deficiency is the biggest negative symptom that immobilized me from accomplishing my goals (or pretty much anything). Motivation deficiency, as it relates to schizophrenia, may be known as avolition or lack of motivation. It truly is magical what weight lifting does to my brain.

With anything related to the brain, it can be extremely difficult to notice or measure when there is a change. For me, the evidence is undeniable. If I do something as small as three sets of deadlifts on a Sunday, I will be motivated and high functioning throughout the entire week. It would take at least 10 days before my motivation falters and I start to become stuck in a rut again. Whenever I feel like my daily life isn’t going in the direction I want it to, weight lifting is the easiest answer to my problems. And, most times, it works. Weight lifting is the answer.

How you weight lift is up to you

Whether you get help from a personal trainer, use machines at the gym, do push-ups at home or anything in between is up to you. The only right answer is the type of exercise that makes you motivated and ambitious again. In my experience, weight lifting created so much productivity and motivation, I thought I went into a weird permanent state of bipolar mania. My paranoid thoughts about being manic existed for two years. My heightened state of functioning felt like a superpower. To be honest, it still does feel like a superpower. Even compared to my counterparts who do not struggle with mental illness, I am seen as high-functioning. If you can start feeling like this, you will know the true power of weight lifting.

It may take some time, but you should eventually find this works for you. I personally didn’t see the full benefits of weight lifting until I started doing larger weights. I found that the heavier weights you lift, the more testosterone is produced. As mentioned in the blog post I linked earlier, testosterone production is the key ingredient to making all of this work. The heavier the weights, the better. For me, I find 200 to 250 pounds of deadlifts are enough for me. I am 6 ft. tall and 180 pounds. Once you get to heavier weights appropriate for your body’s size, superpowers await you. Good luck!

Getty image by greenleaf123

Originally published: March 9, 2021
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