depression in sport

Top 5 Causes of Depression in Athletes

Just like any other ordinary individual, athletes also suffer from various personal and psychological issues. Depression in athletes has become very common. It is also one of the factors that disrupt their performance and career. Even during training, an athlete may already be suffering from depression.

Prevalence of Depression in Athletes

Studies reveal that 68% of athletes are on a depressive state prior to a competition.

This rate is even higher comparing to those who had been found to have depressive episodes following a competition which is only around 34%.

In general, approximately 26% of athletes confess mild to moderate episodes of depression.

The more elite athletes are the ones who are more predisposed to it.

Causes of Depression in Athletes?


1. Unsatisfactory Performance

Athletes who fail to meet their own expectations and the expectations of others commonly fall into depression.

This usually happens prior to a competition when a sudden feeling of hopelessness, with physical exhaustion, and experiencing mental fatigue.

Studies had revealed that 68% of athletes manifests signs of depression even before the start of a competition.

This is due to the rigorous training and constant anticipation for what is yet to happen on the event itself.

2. Injuries

Engaging in physical sports and acquiring injuries are the worst enemy of every athlete.

The most common sports injuries are; sprains and strains, knee injuries like ACL or anterior cruciate ligament tear, fractures, shin splints, tennis elbow or epicondylitis, and joint dislocations caused by falls, blows and miscalculated movements.

Studies reveal that more experienced athletes have lower incidences of injuries; and when they do, the injuries are usually minor in comparison to less-seasoned athletes.

3. Losses and Defeats

Athletes who lose in their competition usually suffer from depression.

While this is natural and very common even in the most ordinary people, the impact is greater among athletes.

This could be attributed to the amount of effort they have exerted during the training, the higher level of exhaustion and failure to meet expectations.

Depression in athletes brought about by losses doubles in percentage among the elite group.

4. Diet

Depression in athletes is also due to their restricted diet.

Unlike ordinary individuals, athletes have specific nutritional requirements which can sometimes be tiring and frustrating.

The reason for their strict diet is to meet the weight requirements of the sport or to achieve a specific body mass index to boost their performance.

Among athletes, the diet itself is part of the discipline and creates limitations with the way they live their lives.

5. Lifestyle

In the height of their career, athletes have to go through lifestyle modification in order to juggle training and their personal life.

The amount of time dedicated to training, rest and other preparations can be overwhelming and leaves practically no room for social life and other activities.

This involves major sacrifices which often causes depression in athletes because they feel deprived of living a normal life.

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