Professional cyclists are not immune to mental health issues, nor are professional athletes, in general. Depression and elite sport can take people by surprise. If they are elite athletes, they should be able to handle anything that gets thrown at them from injury to losing in competition and more. There is immense pressure on people to perform at a high level. Runners, cyclists, and other professional athletes can push themselves but they are not perfect. Talking about mental health can support others who are athletes and need to feel heard.
Why Depression and Cycling Are Linked
Sporting heroes seem like they can do anything they want, without feeling the same things others do. From the outside, they appear to ‘have it all together,’ performing feats of incredible speed, strength, and agility in circumstances most people cannot comprehend. They also give up a lot to be professional athletes. They give up being on holiday with family, friends and don’t have regular schedules.
They train from sun up to sun down an often travel and spend lots of money to pursue their sport, with no guarantee of making it ‘big.’ Athletes tend towards ‘being strong’ rather than being vulnerable, which can put them at a disadvantage in competition. In life, it also puts them at a disadvantage because they struggle to let others help. Exercise is a great way to combat mental health conditions but it may also become an addiction it itself. On top of that, people can deal with depression and anxiety from the pressure without being able to tell anyone.
Diamonds Under Pressure
There is an old adage that talks about diamonds being under pressure to become beautiful, shiny, and polished. The desire to be stronger, faster, and better can push people beyond their limits and feel they cannot be vulnerable to even those who are closest to them. Social media certainly is not helping take the pressure off athletes, who perform in the public eye, under intense scrutiny.
They may also compare themselves in the ranking to others but in look, physique, and accomplishment in their sport. They may never feel they measure up, which results in feeling less confident and sure of themselves. Concussions are also common in sport, especially for elite athletes who may experience post-concussion syndrome and not quite feel the same after. It can impact mental health in ways families may not realize.
Caring for Athletes
Athletes are being offered more help than in the past for specific mental health challenges. Support is available for those who want to embrace getting therapy and help for mental health conditions. It starts with education around mental health for athletes, but also development of screeing for those who are highest risk.
Athletes may also turn to substances when their career is derailed or ends for any reason. This can cause them to wonder what their purpose is now and struggle with how to find hope in the midst of these challenges. Substance abuse treatment and mental health support are critical to help them get back on track in recovery.
Alta Loma helps people from all walks of life find support for their addiction and mental health issues. We have a team of people who customize individual plans for you to help sort through the challenges brought on by addiction. If you struggle with depression, we can help you. If you struggle with anxiety or other mental health issues, along with addiction, we are here to support you without judgment. Call us to get started: 866-457-3843.