Data from national surveys show that more than 30 percent of student-athletes have experienced overwhelming anxiety. By understanding that anxiety is common and by addressing it, student-athletes can better manage anxiety and its impact on their health and performance.
Heavy drinking may be normative on some teams. When a group is highly cohesive—something that is very often the case on college sports teams—team norms are strongly predictive of behavior.
Athletes are always looking for a way to get an edge in their performance. There are many healthy, safe, and legal ways to increase performance. However, some athletes may believe that certain drugs, such as stimulants, can help their performance. Not only is illicit use of many of these substances considered cheating but these substances may also be harmful to health, particularly in the case of non-medically monitored stimulant use.
Some student-athletes may be resistant to seek help for fear of punishment for NCAA violations. Student-athletes are subject to NCAA regulations that relate to the use of some substances. Student-athletes may fear a loss of athletic eligibility if they seek help for illicit drug use.
Pressure from coaches, teammates and loved ones and overwhelm student athletes to perform well every time.
Symptoms of anxiety disorders often worsen under stress. A student-athlete may be experiencing stress because of the transition of being away from home and adjusting to a new living situation, the worry of achieving academically, of meeting athletic expectations in his or her sport.
- Feelings of apprehension or dread.
- Feeling tense or jumpy.
- Restlessness or irritability.
- Anticipating the worst and being watchful for signs of danger.
- Pounding or racing heart and shortness of breath.
- Sweating, tremors and twitches.
- Headaches, fatigue and insomnia.
- Upset stomach, frequent urination and diarrhea.
What student-athletes can do:
- Recognize signs and symptoms and seek help from a licensed mental health provider.
- Actively participate in your treatment and develop a plan that works for you.
- Be mindful of triggers and stressors that can impact your anxiety.
Although most depression occurs for reasons unrelated to sport participation, for some student-athletes there can be risk related to their participation in sport. These can include:
- Psychological response to injury.
- Psychological response to the end of an athletic career.
- Psychological response to performance deficits and criticism.
Signs and symptoms:
- Persistent sadness or empty mood.
- Dramatic changes in sleep, appetite, concentration and energy.
- Lack of interest in activities.
- Hopelessness or guilty thoughts.
- Physical aches and pains.
- Suicidal thoughts.
What student-athletes can do:
- Recognize depression symptoms and seek help from a licensed mental health provider.
- Develop trust and communicate openly with your health care providers.
- Reach out to a trusted friend, coach or athletics administrator or contact The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.
- Practice daily self-care; this includes getting restful sleep, effectively managing stressful situations
Warning signs – any of the behaviors below indicate an increased risk of suicide:
- Talking, writing or thinking about death.Impulsive, aggressive or reckless behavior.
- Increased alcohol and drug use.
- Social withdrawal from friends, family and the community.
- Dramatic mood swings.
Signs of imminent danger – any of the behaviors below should prompt immediate interventions:
- Putting affairs in order and giving away possessions.
- Saying goodbye to friends and family.
- Mood shifts from despair to calm.
- Unexplained interest in obtaining firearms or controlled substances.
- Talking about death.
- Self-harming behaviors.