Anxiety Instead of Endorphins After High-Intensity Exercise? Here’s Why

There’s a lot of things you can feel after a workout. Post-workout endorphins (they’re definitely real), and yes, the effect exercise can have on your mental health is undoubtedly positive, it’s not the case for all people — especially when it comes to intense exercise. For some, it’s a high, while for others, it’s feelings of overwhelming anxiety — enough to bring them to tears.

According to the ABC, when you exercise, you experience a number of chemical reactions in the brain including the release of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, as well as serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline. While the latter are lauded for their mood-boosting qualities, it’s not the same experience for everyone.

And, this it’s most likely because of the fight-flight response, which can be triggered during intense exercise as it causes your heart to pump faster, says Michaela Pascoe, a researcher in mental health, mindfulness and physical activity at Victoria University.