Can Sports Injuries Cause Depression?

Indeed, depression and anxiety disorders can be at least as common in athletes as they are in the general population. John Murray, a clinical sports psychologist in Florida, has found that professional athletes are more likely to develop serious mental illness. He believes injuries can affect athletes in a different way to athletes. 

Sport can serve as a tool to help athletes manage symptoms of mental illness, but the pressure that sport can cause can also contribute to anxiety and depression. Athletes are at greater risk than others because of the culture surrounding sport and because people who suffer injuries can also have depression. 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, contact sports injuries are more common in teens who don't have a fully developed brain and are more likely to take drugs. Injuries in competitive athletes and injured athletes are often associated with depression, tension, anger and low self-esteem. Depression also occurs in the follow-up departments of college athletes after injury. 

Tools such as the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale are valuable in identifying and treating depressive symptoms in athletes who have suffered concussion or other injuries that result in lost training or competition time. These athletes need to be aware of signs and symptoms that may indicate depression. 

Recognize that psychological and socio-cultural factors may play a role in the history of sports illnesses and injuries. Recovery from sports injuries often focuses on physical rehab, but it is important to incorporate sports psychology and recovery techniques. Athletes experience a wide range of emotions after injuries, including denial, anger, sadness and depression. 

When we experience injury in sport, we tend to forget the impact on our mental well-being. Injuries can seem unfair to those who are physically active and healthy. 

Many of us use exercise as a form of stress relief and relaxation, and it can be very challenging if you can't exercise. When you realise you can't do what you enjoy anymore - whether it's running, football or gymnastics - it's demoralising. The frustration and sense of helplessness that can accompany a sports injury can have an impact on mental health. 

For people like Lisa, who already suffer from mental illness such as anxiety or depression, a serious injury can be enough to put you in a bad place. To heal, commit to overcoming your injury, come to your treatment and listen to what your doctor and athletic trainer recommend. Different people accept the return of injuries differently for different reasons. 

A great tactic in the fight against depression is to use the experience of a sitting injury to remind you why you love sport. Use it as motivation for your physiotherapy work, knowing that it will eventually make you a better athlete than you were before the injury. 

To get the most out of your day-to-day rehab work, keep a positive attitude. Setting small daily and weekly goals to build momentum will help you stay in balance on the way to your ultimate goal of healing. 

Sports activity and the resulting illness or injury can cause a variety of psychological reactions that can affect participation in sports. Several psychological problems such as stress, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, substance abuse disorders, illnesses and injuries can trigger unique presentations in the sports population. Team doctors can treat both physical and mental health problems associated with physical activity. 

Emotional reactions associated with a sporting illness or injury can vary over time and circumstances. Education of athletes, coaches and parents about emotional reactions to illness, injury and recovery. Exercise addiction is characterized by the use of physical activity to manage emotions and moods, and sports injuries can lead to psychological stresses such as depression and anxiety. 

Participants in this study were male and female sports students (men's basketball, football, wrestling, women's basketball, football and volleyball) aged 18 to 22 from NCAA Division I universities. The group of concussions included athletes who had suffered a concussion on the team. Student athletes (Team 106) completed the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) before their first team pre-season meeting. 

A serious, long-term injury can have a significant impact on the mental health of an athlete as it can affect their identity and self-confidence. It can also have a complex rehab process and uncertain times that can cause anxiety. Injuries can also remove athletes from their social groups and support networks, increasing isolation. 

Add to that contact sports like broken hands and sprained ankles that are part of the game. According to, contact can cause a rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament in the knee. 

The Institute of Sports Science lists reasons why an active person's injuries can lead to depression. This answer focuses on some of these reasons, but understanding the many reasons why these injuries are common is up to those affected. 

There are a lot of uncontrollable factors that can sometimes be difficult to manage, even if effective coping strategies are in place. Threatening an athlete's career can cause high levels of stress and anxiety, especially when the athlete is injured. 

In a study published in 2019, researchers found that in the last 12 months one in three male athletes and one in two sports students had reported acquiring the effects of stress. Athletes experienced isolation from team-mates, sadness, depressive symptoms and the worry of returning to the level before injury. In short, sports injuries are systems of feedback for stress that can contribute to their development and trigger psychological stress. Despite the fact that researchers have found that reducing stress reduces disease and injury rates, and that more sports injuries occur, it is important to recognize that sports injuries themselves can be a major stress factor. 

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