11 Signs Your Athlete May Be Depressed – And They’re Not Sad


Teenagers are experiencing depression in record numbers. The scary thing is that it doesn’t always look like sadness, and often, they don’t even realize they’re depressed. Student-athletes are a unique subset of students. The pressure to perform on the athletic field, compounded by the rigorous course load, can leave little time for assessing mental health and stability. For most athletes, mental health is a secondary concern to physical health.

When athletes face mental health issues, they typically just brush it off. The fact that many student-athletes bear the burden of balancing school, sports, and their social lives creates a special set of circumstances. Athletes are sometimes taught that showing signs of weakness or being emotional is a bad thing, so many don’t want to share feelings of depression.

Therefore, parents and coaches need to keep an eye out for any unusual behavior.

Here are 11 signs your athlete may be depressed – and they’re not sad.

1. Their appetite drastically changes, and they aren’t in a growth spurt.
2. They’re irritable and aggressive.
3. Change in social habits.
4. Energy levels change.
5. Self-care changes.
6. Sleep patterns altered.
7. Extremely sensitive.
8. They don’t want to practice or train.
9. Constant feelings of being exhausted or tired.
10. Complaints of gastrointestinal issues or frequent headaches.
11. Overtraining.

What can you do?

  • First off, seek help. If possible, find a licensed professional who specializes in depression in young people.
  • Listen with an empathetic ear and open heart with no agenda.
  • Help them develop social support through friends, teammates, and family.
  • Create awareness. Don’t brush it off, don’t think the problem is solved after one discussion. Stay present and supportive in the process of helping them get better.
  • Make sure they are sleeping enough. Sleep is a large cause of a lot of many mental and physical issues.
  • Nutrition. Make sure they are eating a balanced and healthy diet.
  • Laugh a lot; it is medicine for the soul.
  • Volunteer with them. Giving your time, energy, and compassion can create an attitude of gratitude.
  • Identify and manage their triggers.
  • Find online resources to help deal with stress and depression.
  • Explore meditation, breathing, and mindfulness.

If you or someone you know needs immediate help, call 1-800-273- 8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HOME to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line.

These posts are for informational purposes only and should not be considered as specific financial, legal or tax advice. Depending on your individual circumstances, the strategies discussed in this post may not be appropriate for your situation. Always consult your legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. In providing such information, Great American does not warrant that all potential hazards or conditions have been evaluated or can be controlled. The liability of Great American Insurance Company is limited to the terms, limits and conditions of the insurance policies underwritten. ©2024 Great American Insurance Company. All Rights Reserved. Great American Insurance Group’s member companies are subsidiaries of American Financial Group, Inc. (AFG). AFG is a holding company whose common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Policies are underwritten by Great American Insurance Company, an authorized insurer in all 50 states and the DC. Please see Great American Insurance Company’s Legal Disclosures/Terms and Conditions here.  https://www.greatamericaninsurancegroup.com/contact/legal-disclosures

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