I believe there is a general stigma about professional athletes and active people. There’s a phrase that is roughly mumbled along the lines of “go do something active.” We all heard it growing up and we all hear it when we’re going through a rough time.
To be fair, when you’re moving and playing, it does something to your brain.
The increased blood flow brings your brain all the good things it needs: nutrients, oxygen and the biggest one, endorphins.
Simply put, endorphins make you feel good.
So, if someone plays a sport as a job, shouldn’t they be the most naturally high people? Sure, it makes sense but let’s look at some facts.
The British Journal of Sports Medicine conducted a study on depression in college athletes. About 25 percent of the athletes participating had “clinically relevant depressive symptoms.” They also found that this statistic was significantly greater in female athletes. Although the study was conducted for the numbers, they summarized that college athletes are balancing two different lives. The life of a student is stressor number one and the life of an athlete, stressor number two.
This is a real issue that hits closer to home than we realize.
Last month, a statement was released by the University of Montana that one of their football players had died from an apparent suicide.
Although we aren’t aware of other issues he may have had, it is important to acknowledge that these situations are not rare.
Terry Bradshaw, a former NFL quarterback and current TV personality for FOX Sports has attention deficit disorder (ADD) and depression. He often reflects on how he feels his ADD triggers his depression. He would get confused when new plays were called. When he was diagnosed with depression he felt a sense of relief.
Former Olympic swimmer Amanda Beard has spoken out about her challenges with self-harm and bulimia.
Finally, Clint Malarchuk, the former NHL goalie who is known for almost dying on the ice, lives with sports-induced post-traumatic stress disorder. In 1989 his jugular vein was cut when an opposing player’s skate sliced his neck. Soon after the incident, he suffered from anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. He never sought counseling because it wasn’t common at the time, especially for people on the platform he was.
These people may have different experiences with their mental health, but the one thing they have in common is the existence of mental health issues.
They are athletes and because of that you may view their jobs as entertainers for your viewing pleasure. Your opinion on that may be valid but, as humans, it is not their job to suppress mental health issues in order to conform to the pedestal you might have them on.