Even Stars Can Be Sidelined By Depression

In addition to the many issues and lifestyle changes that can come with multiple sclerosis, symptoms revolving around our mental health can be especially problematic. Depression and anxiety are extremely common issues among the MS population.

Stepping up to discuss personal struggles

Not only does the MS Society state this, our very own MS In America surveycorroborates those findings). In addition to what can be the debilitating nature of mental health issues, we must often face stigma and a lack of understanding from those around us.

The battle to get others to understand mental health concerns has gotten some new heroes though. In recent months, several notable stars from the world of sports have not only had their lives and careers put on hold because of mental health challenges, but they have stepped up to discuss their struggles.

No one is immune

I’m not sure there is a better way to demonstrate just how debilitating mental health issues can be than to point out that three of the greatest athletes to ever play their sports have all had to miss time due to their mental health. I am speaking of former number one ranked in the world tennis star Naomi Osaka, world record-setting Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, and Multi-Pro Bowl offensive lineman Lane Johnson of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles.

All three have had to recently miss matches, events, and games because of depression and anxiety. While that itself is difficult, all three have been refreshingly honest about their struggles in a world where many fail to understand just how significant mental health challenges can debilitate people.

It’s not just sadness

A lot of people don’t understand that depression is much more than sadness, that it can have a significant impact on your daily life, and that it’s not “just in your head”. Depression can cause physical changes to the brain, like shrinking it.1

Depression has also been shown to alter the structure of the brain.2 Just trying to be positive or taking a walk in nature is not enough to stop these kinds of effects. If one of these superstar athletes, who have not only millions of dollars on the line but also their reputations (imagine explaining this in an NFL locker room!), could just be more positive and get back to their sports, don’t you think they would?

After all, they are people that routinely push themselves mentally and physically to the limit. If anyone were able to push through something like this, don’t you think it’d be them?

It is debilitating

I’ve been discussing 3 star athletes and how they’ve missed time in their sports because of depression and anxiety. Essentially, they were temporarily disabled by these issues. They are far from alone in this issue: the World Health Organization states that depression is the leading cause of disability in the world!

I understand that these athletes don’t have MS, but that’s another big point here. If they are some of the most physically fit people in the world and they can be sidelined by depression and anxiety, imagine the effect of those conditions on someone who suffers from multiple sclerosis? I can tell you from first-hand experience, it’s not easy.

The impact of honesty

I hope that I have, again, shed some light on just how severe mental health challenges can be. That they can physically alter our brains and that it takes much more than positive thinking to get past them. I’d like to give a huge shout-out to Naomi Osaka, Simone Biles, and Lane Johnson.

I’m sure many athletes have missed time due to depression and anxiety. Few have been so honest about it though, and I’m so thankful that they were. Thanks so much for reading and feel free to share! As always, I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments below!

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