I have had many concerned athletes that have recently become injured, and reach out to me for advice. They are confused, worried and feeling low. When we are injured we are too busy being concerned about the physical part that we don’t realise the mental effect it can have upon us. Many feel confused or anxious and low. I thought it was important to share this information;
The injured athlete.
Don’t be surprised at the overwhelming highs and lows of going through an injury.
Depression is a common mental disorder, which affects up to 25% of female athletes and 12% of male athletes. Many athletes will experience a loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, low energy, poor concentration and irritability. Unfortunately, athletes who experience the symptoms of depression are reluctant to seek help, due to the perception that depression carries a cloak of shame. Athletes are taught to be tough and by admitting to a psychological or emotional problem, an individual’s confidence may be further threatened.
Factors such as the magnitude of the injury, the success of the rehabilitation program, the athlete’s personality, and level of competition have an impact on the athlete’s responses. Depression fills a void when the sport isn’t possible.
Athletes Sidelined by Injury Must Cope With Sense of Loss. A suddenly sidelined athlete doesn’t have to be competing on the world stage to feel depressed. Even injured weekend athletes are susceptible to depression, anxiety and other psychological symptoms, including nightmares, flashbacks to the accident, moodiness, irritability, fatigue, insomnia, weight gain and low self-esteem.
Initially, athletes can feel a deep sense of loss or a void in their lives. They lose not only the actual physical activity, but also the gratification they get from competing and the social aspects of the sport. They may also lose that feeling of invulnerability and absolute trust in their bodies.
With time away from their sport, athletes also lose a piece of identity, especially if they earned recognition for their athleticism. If all the sudden you can’t be an athlete, it sends you into a bit of an existential crisis in terms of, `who am I, and what am I doing here?
Moody and depressed, some injured athletes are often left to brood by themselves. Athletes complain that their friends and family members are not always sympathetic, or understanding.
“If you’re a non-athlete, it’s hard to understand the importance a sport can play in someone’s life”
It is so very important to try to make small goals for your self and stay as positive as you possibly can. Try to convince yourself that you know you will return in time, in some way or another, patience and self confidence can be challenging at times…. but these are your best tools for recovery. Your mind is very powerful…don’t underestimate it:-)
Stay determined and have trust in your body. Our bodies can do amazing things when we put our minds to it:-)