Health Issues Professional Athletes Deal With


Among the many health challenges professional athletes face are mental health issues. Unlike physical injuries, they’re often hidden and not as easily diagnosed. But they’re every bit as serious, if not more so. And they need to be addressed.


Depression can be just as limiting and debilitating as a physical injury. It’s a condition that most people take time to deal with, but it can also be life-threatening if not treated quickly and properly. Often, depression is caused by stressful events in your life. These include bereavement, a relationship breakdown, a medical illness or job loss. A prevalent mental health issue, depression, can be addressed with medication or therapy. A balanced diet and regular exercise may also be necessary to alter your lifestyle.


Anxiety is a common health concern for athletes. It can be a symptom of a hidden medical issue or a negative drug interaction. Anxiety can have negative effects on your performance, and it can be debilitating. It can also contribute to depression, insomnia, digestive issues, and headaches. Anxiety symptoms include increased heart rate, sweating, and a feeling of dread or irritability. A racing mind and thoughts of danger or failure can also accompany it. There are several ways to address anxiety, including medication and psychotherapy. A sports medicine doctor can help you find the right treatment for you.

Substance Abuse

Even though athletes face as many health challenges as the general population, they also face a heightened risk for substance abuse. It is because their identities are often tied to their sports, and the pressure they put on themselves is intense. Substance use can sometimes lead to a mental illness like depression or anxiety if it’s not treated. Athletes can also become addicted to prescription drugs used to treat pain or enhance athletic performance. Treatment for drug addiction involves a combination of medical and behavioral therapy. Medications can help prevent withdrawal and reduce cravings. In addition, group and individual therapy can help with relapse prevention.

Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when an impact or blow to the head damages the brain. Symptoms can range from mild concussions to severe, permanent brain damage. Falls, car accidents and sports injuries are the most common causes of TBI. Some injuries can be serious and require intensive medical treatment and long-term rehabilitation. The most important goal for anyone with a TBI is to restore normal function and prevent further injury. It is done through treatment, including rest, reducing blood pressure and checking the pressure inside the skull.

Overtraining Syndrome

The hard work athletes put into training can sometimes take a toll on their health, especially when they are not getting the results they were hoping for. It is often referred to as Overtraining Syndrome (OTS). It can be difficult to recognize OTS early, but it’s important to watch for these symptoms. They can include fatigue, decreased performance, poor sleep, depression and rhabdomyolysis (muscle damage). Although overtraining can affect anyone, it’s more common in elite athletes. Although it can be challenging to treat, athletes who seek help can recover. Athletes can also prevent overtraining by working within their limits and allowing enough recovery time between workouts.