”The studies found that there are risk factors specific to athletes for depression.
- Injury: lasting >6 weeks or needing surgery
- Age related loss of performance
- Pregnancy interrupting training or competition
- Retirement or loss of professional or elite affiliation
- Overly perfectionist personality traits
- Recreational substance abuse
- Anabolic steroid use
The risk factors can be lumped into more general categories. 1. Injury negatively impacting performance and or training. 2. Life or developmental milestones affecting the athlete. 3. Finally maladaptive approaches/attitude to training and or competition having unintended negative impact on performance. It is my opinion that these risk factors should not be interpreted as an additive or causal relationship, meaning that if you acquire more of the above, like an aging type A personality-athlete with chronic injuries and difficulty attaining a sponsor, that you will definitely develop clinical depression; rather to recognize that these experiences, much like a fall on the trail, should indicate to the runner, coach, manager or sports med doc to perform a self-assessment or screening for depression.”
This was an excerpt written by psychologist and fellow ultra runner Dr. John Onate. I look forward to his next two posts which he will write about treatment, stigma reduction and advocacy for depression. Click on the link below to see the full post.