75 Mood Disorders

Athletes, unlike nonathletes, do not show major changes in thier mood. Instead they are show signs in their preformance, such as decreased energy, poor performance, and dissatifaction with in their performance. It is very important for the sports medicial team to watch for these signs so they can better help and understand the athlete and, if necessary, call a sports psychologist to do further testing. According to the National Institute Of Mental Health, approximately 20.9 million American adults, or about 9.5 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year, have a mood disorder ((NIMH). The median age of onset for mood disorders is 30 years There are three common mood disorders that are affect an athletes, which include, depression, dysthymia and bipolar disorders.

  • Depression is characterized by feelings of sadness and loss of interest in the activities that a person normally enjoys. Additional symptoms include feelings of worthlessness, difficulty concentrating, and weight loss.
    • An example of this is shown in the New York Mets pitcher, Pete Harnisch. According to Kamm 2008, Harnisch was coming off of a shoulder injury and was expected to be the ace pitcher for the Mets. He stopped chewing tobacco and found himself losing weight, fatigued, and unable to sleep. Harnisch approached his manager saying he did not feel he could pitch opening day. The manager then ridiculed him in front of the team which caused a riff in the relationship between them. Harnisch approached another staff, to which he was given Benadryl, for his insomnia and misdiagnosed with Lyme disease, an inflammatory disease spread through a tick bite, before the proper diagnosis of depression was finally made. Once diagnosed, Harnisch was prescribed Paxil, underwent psychotherapy and made an excellent recovery. His pitching was just as good on Paxil as off. If a sports medical team had interviewed Harnisch they would have found that Harnisch had feelings of sadness and guilt as well as a lack of joy. Harnisch also had a history of depression in his family. A sports medical team can find and diagnose depression by observing the athlete for being down or sad, loss of appetite, concentration disturbances, irritability, lack of energy, lack of pleasure from things, and guilt. Also asking questions seeing if there is a history of depression in the family can be beneficial.
    • Although, depression is common in athletes, there arent many studies the show who, females or males, more more prone to the disorder. However, in a general population, woman are more likely then men to experience depression.(Mule, 2004).
    • Another issue that has drawn a lot of negative attention in the sport’s world recently is that of concussions in pro football and the issues being had by the NFL. Over the past decade, the prevalence of concussions in football players has increased drastically, and it seems that older players with histories of concussions are seeing more and more complications. Due to the increase in concussions and the permanent and long term problems they bring about, the NFL and NCAA is most-likely going to adopt new rules to better protect those who have had concussions and all those who are at risk for a concussion.
    • Athletes may also suffer from Dysthymia which is a less intense form of depression where there is no prolonged well state or less episodic. In order of an athlete to be diagnosed with this disorder they must show two of the following signs: poor appetite, sleep disorder, low energy, low self-esteem, poor conentration and a feeling of hopelessness.
  • Bipolar Disorders: are characterized by manic and depressive episodes.
    • Althought the number of athletes who suffer with bipolar disorder is unknown, the National Institute of Mental Health has stated that about 5.7 million adults or 2.6 percent of the U.S population is affect with this disorder (NIMH).
    • Bipolar disorder has affected several professional athletes such as Ilie Nastase (tennis) and Dimitrius Underwood (football). In a hypomanic episode, athletes may seem only outrageous and overly aggressive, but something more may be laying underneath. For instances, Miami Dolphins Defensive Tackle, Dimitrius Underwood. In 1999, Underwood took a knife to his neck. Judgment becomes impaired and athletes frequently turn to drugs or alcohol, especially if there is a prior history of abuse. Barrett Robbins, (football) with the Oakland Raiders missed the super bowl in 2003 because he went on a drinking binge the night before. Robbins had already been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and the team was aware of his condition. Howver, he stopped taking his medicine during preseason camp and developed erratic behavior before the super bowl. Although the team noticed he had started drinking, a sign of bipolar, no one intervened.
    • It is important for the sport medical team to pay attention to the nuances of medical conditions such as bipolar disorder. Knowing about the disorder, Robbins should have been placed in a buddy system environment where someone mad sure he was ok. This person would have reported any problems or signs to the team physician. This would have been extremely important at the time of extreme stress such as the Super Bowl.

Related Articles, links and photo to the disorders described above:

Pete Harnisch

Ilie Nastase


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Abnormal Psychology Copyright © 2017 by Lumen Learning is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book