Depression in college athletics

Depression in college athletics

Depression is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you think, feel, and act. In most cases, depression causes feelings of sadness and a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. Depression causes diverse physical and emotional problems, reducing productivity at work and home. Depression has no specific timelines for occurrence; thus, it affects all groups of people and ages across life (Valster, 2020). Depression occurs from the influence of different things contributing to stressful events like relationship breakdown or bereavement. This essay paper outlines about depression that athletes undergo while in their college life.

Data indicate that approximately 35% of professional and elite athletes face mental health challenges from depression, anxiety, disordered eating, and burnout. College athletes, over the years, have represented a high-risk group due to the high demand for being a student and athletes. Most college athletics encounters cases of high levels of stress, leading to depression and anxiety. Many college athletes risk developing long-term physical and psychological effects (Valster, 2020). Conducting research among students in the college involved in athletics, the research reviews that the most significant percentage of these college athletes suffer from more serious mental health cases like depression, insomnia, and panic. Due to their demands, most college athletes are placed under more severe stress, putting them into high levels of depression through consistency.

Exercise is associated with good health; thus, children at a young age are introduced to exercise, which is taught to be best for health. Many children are introduced to sports and taught how important it could be for life when they nurture good health, better focus, and happiness. The opposite of this may happen when college athletes are taught about the sport; instead of becoming mentally and physically healthy, it becomes an inevitable source of pressure and stress, leading to depression. Some college athletes experience a moment in their lives where instead of enjoying the fun behind the sport, they get exposed to a stressful context with an entire competition of pressure which in turn makes someone ill. Some students today are under high levels of stress, leading to depression due to the risk of developing long-term physical and psychological effects.

College athletes are at high risk of experiencing stress, which would later lead to depression compared to other students within the same college due to the pressures they pass through. College athletes experience more pressure to balance their athletics and studies first, which at some point might be too involving and exhausting at the same time. College athletes experience more significant stress from tasks they are involved with in daily activities, which at some point may exceed their capacity, thus uplifting the stress level leading to depression. Various factors may participate much in exposing college athletics to depression-like issues of environmental and social components, which at a point, college students may be neglected to participate in a particular match that they feel they are fully prepared for due to discrimination. Failing to be granted the proper acknowledgment as a result of background or ethnicity would lower their moods and lead to depression (Ingrassia, 2020).

Goals from the trainers, which happen to be performance-oriented demands, may be too high for the trainers or institution then college athletics’ failure to attain them may make them feel overwhelmed, causing them to get into depression. The aspect of conflicting emotions that students are exposed to for sports performance while at the same time are expected to maintain high standards of studies might be demanding, thus causing much anxiety, which leads to depression (Garver et al., 2021). Another factor causing students to be subjected to depression is family genetics, where some students may experience stress connected to their background. Some of these stresses, which result from genetics or background setup, affect college athletics’ capacity to perform within their respective areas. This stress and fear accumulate until they cannot control themselves and end up in depression (Garver et al., 2021).

Workplaces sometimes would participate in causing depression in college athletes by causing disposed to the feeling of tension and nervousness, which ruins their moods, impacting more stress and causing depression. Experience College athletes pass through within their workplace at some point brings more anxiety and pain about the techniques they should employ to perform in their sports (Ingrassia, 2020). This stress makes them fall into depression while focusing on how they could be competitive in their sport. Out of research, most college athletes claim some of the signs they experience are increased heart rate, a sense of panic, and feeling powerless. Some college athletes face challenges with their social life due to many expectations they desire to achieve in their daily schedules (Caulfield et al., 2022). Being too busy forces them to have a limited social life which may ruin them entirely trying to balance their win in sports and academics, which is very competitive; thus, levels of anxiety mess them, leading to depression.

Techniques are available to approach the issue of depression. College athletes require better mental imagery to be used, which was found to reduce anxiety and stress levels among individuals trained under pressure over the years of use. Enforcing mind-to-body therapy lowers blood pressure levels and high heart rates among individuals. Another critical method that would help lower the case of depression among college athletes is involving coaches in sharing with players (Caulfield et al., 2022). Coaches could hold a meeting with college athletes to discuss how each individual is coping with pressures coachers impose on them toward their plan to win. Another critical approach would be conducting a discussion meeting with the coaching staff or sport psychologist to share the importance of mental health and then ways to follow in case of present or future association with depression. This issue of bringing awareness about cases of anxiety would prevent and manage college athletes suffering from depression (Caulfield et al., 2022).

Counseling and bio-feedback involve thoroughly analyzing the cause of the depression. First, one should identify the cause of the depression in terms of response to psychological like blood pressure and activity of the brain, then identify ways of regulating these responses and finally implement regulation of physiological responses. College athletes should also be advised to create some time of their own, think of some of the experiences they are going through in their career, and open up to their psychologist for assistance (Cassilo & Kluch, 2021). Self-reflection plays a better role in dealing with anxiety and stress, which causes depression; thus, understanding some issues like high blood pressure and heart rate would present a better approach. College athletes would have an efficient and better approach toward their sports career, which over the years might be too demanding out of the experience they passed through (Cassilo & Kluch, 2021). Balancing academics and sports at the same time happens to be a challenging task at some point. However, sports might be theirs for a lifetime whenever a college athlete manages them. College athletes terminate their sport by negative influence if they fail to reach their career goals.

In conclusion, the percentage of college athlete suffering from depression are not alone; other non-athletes also suffer from depression. Thus, it is not sport-oriented but can fall to the general population. Stress leading to depression does not affect college athletes alone, but adults in the workplace are also subjected to pressures, and some individuals may end up suffering from this depression. Besides all these groups of people, college athletes suffer the most severe mental health issues due to the pressures they are subjected to. In many cases, college athletes, due to poor social life, feel embarrassed to seek help, and failure to access the proper counseling leads them to depression. Some college athletes may feel that anyone asking for help is weak, which puts them to go into silence. Empowering awareness about the causes, symptoms, and therapy towards preventing and maintaining depression would be helpful to college athletes by making them productive all through.


Cassilo, D., & Kluch, Y. (2021). Mental health, college athletics, and the media framing DJ Carton’s announcement to step away from his team. Communication & Sport, 21674795211041019.

Caulfield, J. L., Lee, F. K., & Baird, C. A. (2022). Navigating the Ethically Complex and Controversial World of College Athletics: A Humanistic Leadership Approach to Student-Athlete Well-Being. Journal of Business Ethics, pp. 1–15.

Garver, M. J., Gordon, A. M., Philipp, N. M., Huml, M. R., & Wakeman, A. J. (2021). Change-event steals “athlete” from “college athlete”: Perceived impact and depression, anxiety, and stress. Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare, p. 14, 1873.

Ingrassia, B. M. (2020). Conceptualizing “Small-Time” College Athletics: The Fracture of the “Little Nineteen” Conference in the 1930s. Journal of Sport History47(3), 191-209.

Valster, K. M. (2020). Mental health screening and help-seeking behavior in NCAA Division III athletics (Doctoral dissertation, Concordia University Chicago).

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