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How depression can harm athletes



Depression is a mental health condition that affects millions of people, including professional athletes. As someone who engages in sports, you have pressure to perform, and it can be challenging to do that if you’re depressed. Symptoms of depression include fatigue, low mood, struggles with self-worth, hopelessness, and irritability. It can be challenging to conceal the symptoms of depression, which is one reason that it’s vital to seek help if you struggle with depression or believe that you might be. Athletes sometimes try to “push through the pain” due to their commitment to their sport, and this can translate not only to physical pain but mental health issues as well. It can be tempting to push physical and emotional issues aside due to time constraints or the pressure to succeed, but just like with physical pain, if you ignore your depression, it will get worse.

Why reaching out for support helps

When you reach out for support with depression as an athlete, you’ll feel a sense of relief. You don’t have to hide. You’ll have a mental health professional to confide in about the pressure that you face and other factors that might be playing into your battle with depression. Depression can be common among people who play sports because you might feel that no matter how hard you work, you’re not good enough, or you won’t achieve your goals. You might not feel comfortable confiding in your coach, or fellow players because you’re afraid that they won’t understand, or if you’re involved in a team sport, how people will view your ability to function as part of a team. There are ways that therapy can help you. You have a sounding board where you can talk about the pressures of being an athlete. It’s imperative to have this safe space.

Dangers of hidden depression amongst athletes

If you hide depression, you could start engaging in self harm or self-destructive behaviors. These actions can be detrimental to your career. If you’re depressed and don’t get treatment, you could have issues with substance abuse, relationship difficulties, or engage in compulsive spending or gambling because they don’t have an outlet for their mental health issues. Depression can be dangerous if left untreated, and it could get to the point where the athlete tries to harm themselves. They may not feel like there’s anyone they can speak to about their problems. That’s why it’s essential to ask for help.

The pressure to perform in the media

As an athlete, you might feel like you can’t express your feelings in a vulnerable way in the public eye. The media places unrealistic expectations on athletes, where they expect these individuals to be “on” all the time. You may feel like you need to wear a smile when the camera is on, and not show your true feelings. That isn’t reality, and if you have a place to speak about your feelings, you will start to see relief from depressive symptoms. You won’t have to feel like you are faking it all the time. You have a safe space to express yourself. It’s also hard, 

particularly amongst male athletes, because society expects men to be stoic and not show emotions. Depression could be seen as a sign of weakness when millions of people suffer from this condition. People who get treatment for depression are living fulfilling lives.

Getting help

Depression is challenging, but some treatments are proven to help the symptoms and provide people some relief. Therapy is an excellent option for those who are struggling. There are many places that you can search for a therapist. One place that you can get the help that you need, especially if you’re an athlete that travels a lot, is online therapy. Online counseling is an excellent place to get help for depression. You can do it in the comfort of your home or any space that feels safe to you. Don’t hesitate to reach out for support if you are an athlete struggling with depression. Your mental health matters, and when you seek therapy you can gain clarity on your feelings, learn coping skills, and start productively managing depression.


Marie Miguel Biography

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

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