Depression in Athletes

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Recent studies have found that as many as one in five athletes across the board suffer from depression.

From high school soccer and basketball players to college lacrosse goalies and everything in between.

If you are an athlete, and you think you may be depressed and want help, this blog is for you.


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Some facts

Depression is a disease that has no preference in who it attacks. Even the people that seem the least likely to suffer from this terrible issue, can be inflicted.

Multiple high-income athletes have helped shine a light on this problem.

Olympic athletes Chloe Kim and Michael Phelps have both come out, in different articles, admitting that they felt extreme effects of depression while competing.

Phelps even went as far as saying "After every Olympics, I fell into a deep state of depression"

High stress mixed in with the daily requirement to show up, interact, and compete, the depression can often be exacerbated to the fullest extent.

But there are many different ways to help battle this problem and overcome the difficulties faced.

This blog will shine a light on the situation and how to overcome depression as an athlete.


Understanding your Depression

Depression, in short, is when you lose your love of life. You almost always feel hopeless, passionless, and uninterested in nearly everything.

Depression can have severe effects on mental health, relationships, and overall quality of life.

Depression can affect athletes by hampering their motivation, love of the sport, and ability to focus.

Many coaches say "Get your head in the game." But if you are suffering from depression, it's difficult to even show up, let alone have your full effort on display.

While society, your teammates and coaches may pressure you to continue to play, show up and compete, it's important to realize this stigma doesn't carry more importance than your mental health.

Coping Strategies

So what can you do if you are facing depression as an athlete?

In any situation, it's important to reach out to either a loved one, a friend, or a healthcare professional.

If you choose to reach out to one of these people and they don't help you feel any better, or if they seemingly take sides with all the people forcing you to play, you can reach out again.

As humans, we are often misled by short-sightedness.

The saying "it takes a village.." is as true as ever.

So remember if your family member, friend, or loved one doesn't give you the help you are looking for, don't give up.

Continue in your search for assistance with this problem that so many people face.

Remind yourself that you are not alone, and there's power in asking for help.

Remember, that no one understands your mental health as much as you do.

While it's a great thing to have a support system and to have people to rely on, sometimes, we aren't so lucky. So remember to practice self-care.

In the battle for mental health, you will be your own MVP, don't let anyone else push you around, bully you into performing, or doing anything you know will negatively affect you. Stand up for yourself!

Overcoming barriers

If you feel alone, trust us when we tell you, you are not!

With one in five athletes facing traits of depression, and some studies showing as many as 35% of retired athletes facing depression, it's a huge issue that largely isn't discussed.

So why is that?

While the reason could have many different answers, the important takeaway, is that our athletes need help.

With the high levels of stress, performance pressure, and stigma, it may seem impossible to overcome the barriers of depression as an athlete, but you can take the steps to progress.

Realize how common it is.

Remember you are not alone.

Remind yourself it's okay to be depressed.

Don't succumb to pressure from teammates and coaches.

If you fear that talking to a professional or not performing could lead to financial issues for you, it's important to note there is financial assistance, many different health insurances cover professional help, and at the end of the day, your mental health is much more valuable than any amount of money.

When you take that step back and understand the truth of the situation, your loved ones, coaches, and the team would all choose your safety and health over any accolades that could be won. 

Tips for Today

If this article touches home at any point there are a few steps you can take today to move towards a brighter future.

While always having your best interest at heart, you need to take hold of this disease and don't stop fighting until you see the effects ease up and the lights open up at the end of the tunnel.

If you need to take a few days off from sports, to get your mind healthy, don't be afraid to make that judgment call.

Just like in sports, mental health is an actively changing concept.

While you may feel perfect, normal and happy on Tuesday, you could feel the exact opposite on Wednesday, so stay strong and active in the battle against depression as an athlete.

  1. Talk to someone, or maybe even talk to a few people. Until someone gives you the help that you deserve, don't give up.
  2. Do some more research into mental health and don't be afraid to share what you find with your teammates.
  3. Prioritize your mental health. No accolade is worth detrimental health effects.
  4. Reach out to professionals for help. Don't worry about the cost or details. With low cost and free help, the cost of something should never get in the way of your overall happiness.

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Conclusion

Theres a reason, more athletes than regular people face bouts of extreme depression.

From the stress of the game, the physical toll on the body and mind and the stigma around sports and being the best, without showing any weakness, this concoction of emotions can lead to dire mental health effects.

It's important to always put your mental health as more of a priority than the sport you are playing.

Find a strong support system in the people outside of the support and seek professional help if you feel that you need it.

No game is worth losing yourself, so stay strong, and you will come out ahead of this depression as an athlete.

For self harm concerns reach call 988

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April 15th, 2024

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