Elite Athletes and Depression Symptoms

Another great blog from our amazing student contributors.

Being an elite athlete requires skill, focus and determination over the course of a lifetime. From making compromises to carefully monitoring nutrition and sleep, being an elite athlete is a demanding profession that brings with it unique physical and psychological challenges. Whilst many athletes feel as though they thrive on these consistent challenges, even the most successful of athletes can be at risk factor of developing depressive symptoms.

Depression in Athletes

There are multiple types of depression that can effect an athlete. Post competition depression commonly occurs shortly after a big competition and can occur regardless of whether the athlete has been successful or unsuccessful. Similarly, depression in elite athletes can arise as the result of a disappointing performance as self-esteem and self-confidence are often severely affected. Another significant contributing factor to an athlete developing depressive symptoms is the occurrence of an injury. Athletes especially can struggle to step back from their usual training and take time to heal after an injury. It can often bring significant amounts of stress in regards to whether they will be able to maintain pre-injury fitness as well as invite negative thoughts regarding competency.

There are many ways for athletes to maintain positive mental health and combat depression symptoms, especially in the high-risk situations aforementioned.

  • The implementation of goal setting, goal monitoring and goal revision consistently pre-competition, during competition and post competition.
  • Communicating and sharing their feelings and experiences with other athletes, coaches, friends and family.
  • Factoring in time to take a break and focus on other aspects of life. This helps maintain perspective and decreases the pressure athletes feel in regards to their profession.

In summary, it is important that all athletes feel supported throughout both their training and competition. Here at Prahran Psychology we work with associations such as Swimming Australia and the AFL to ensure their athletes are in optimal psychological, as well as physical health.

Madeline Foster
Deakin University

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *