10-30 Loss of identity post retirement surges depressive symptoms among athletes

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Loss of identity post retirement surges depressive symptoms among athletes

Specified as the most common psychiatric disorder, depression has paralyzed millions of people worldwide and has affected the well-being of people more than chronic illnesses like diabetes or arthritis.

Depression does not segregate anyone based on his or her gender, race, religion or occupation, and it is prevalent among sports personnel too, especially among retired athletes. As such, depression barely evolves due to a single factor. One develops depression due to the combined effects of numerous environmental, social, psychological and biological factors that react in unpredictable ways among different individuals.

Though sports and physical activities are known to condition one’s physical and mental states, retirement from participation in sports can surge a range of emotions like denial, despair, anger, depression, etc. There are numerous accounts of athletes or retired sports personnel struggling with distress or celebrity players ending their lives mercilessly.

Key reasons behind depression among retired athletes

With the emergence of mysterious suicides of distinguished athletes like Rick Rypien, Ryan Freel, and Terry Long among others, it has come to light that athletes and sportsmen are no less exposed to the crippling disorder of depression.

Compared to others, athletes or sports people are often perceived as mentally and physically healthier, tougher and happier individuals. This stereotyping often poses serious deterrents in approaching someone for help. Moreover, the equation becomes a lot more complicated due to an unprepared retirement.

While a typical working individual may have various interest areas, an athlete is passionate about his or her sports and identifies himself or herself with it. Upon retirement, most of the athletes are ill-prepared for donning a new role. Therefore, retirement brings the feeling of loss of identity.

Moreover, sports and physical activities ensures numerous alterations in the brain that are otherwise achieved only through drugs. Besides triggering similar effects like psychotropic drugs, they help in reducing the stress hormone cortisol.

Such activities also assist the brain in generating feel good chemicals like the neurotransmitter serotonin and enhancing the activity of epinephrine. When these regular doses of serotonin suddenly get decreased or stopped, significant physical and psychological transformations can be observed in the athlete.

Retirement can cause a sea change in a person’s life, financially, personally and socially. It also causes stressful situations that cause mental distress. Furthermore, decline from the status of a celebrity used to the limelight and paparazzi to an ordinary life of retirement can be of extremely challenging even for the toughest of athletes.

This is because the predominant culture of any society is not sufficiently aware to promptly grasp or understand the challenges of retirement, especially among sports persons. As athletes are often perceived as role models by others, sudden seclusion and reclusion can hurt their self-esteem, subsequently inciting identity crisis.

In the absence of all these benefits of sports and other reasons, retirement is bound to trigger depressive symptoms. Even some of the high-profile athletes have voiced similar concerns post retirement, such as Ian Thorpe, Dame Kelly Holmes, Andrew Flintoff, etc.

Road to a better life

Major changes in life like marriage, kids, job change or retirement can bring numerous shifts in one’s life that have the potential to cause substantial stress. Since stress is a key risk factor for depression, it can manifest in the form of mild to chronic symptoms that can even lead to suicide.

Just like any other change in life, retirement is also seen as a normal transition. However, for most people, this transition can create a havoc in their life by triggering a range of depressive symptoms, such as agitation, loss of interest, extreme stress, etc. In such cases, it is imperative to consult a professional health practitioner to avoid the worsening of the symptoms.

If you are looking for a treatment center that provides complete care for depression under the guidance of trained health professionals, get in touch with the Depression Treatment Centers of California. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-678-0400 for more details about the best rehab centers in California. Alternatively, you can chat online with our executives who can also guide you to some of the best depression treatment facilities in California treating patients using a comprehensive approach.


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