Injury Depression

It's a Real Thing

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Injuries while training can really throw a wrench in an athlete’s goals and dreams. Injuries can take an athlete away from training for as little as 4 weeks to as long as several months. All athletes will react to the news of injury a little differently;

“There is no predictable sequence or reaction. The response to injury extends from the time immediately after injury through to the post-injury phase and then rehabilitation and ultimately with return to activity.

Why does injury affect these athletes so much?

The amount of time, energy, and effort put into training for a sport makes it part of their identity. Many athletes find that training helps them emotionally and the removal of this option makes coping difficult.

The other side of the equation happens when an athlete returns to training after being away from the sport for an extended period of time. The athlete will be behind in training plans, perhaps slower or not as in shape as others they usually compete with or against. This concept can also be mentally trying.

Anyone can be affected psychologically, but the more success an athlete has achieved, the more likely he or she might experience depression or feel a lack of self-worth. In other words, an Olympian would be more affected psychologically by an injury than someone who plays pick-up basketball on Saturdays

broken bone

What is Injury Depression?

Injury depression is just what it sounds like; it is a depressive mood caused by an injury. Everyone can feel this in different ways; in fact, there are several different types of symptoms to be aware of that are connected to injury depression:

  • addictions
  • anger issues
  • anxiety
  • changes in appetite
  • changes in sleep pattern
  • decreased self-esteem
  • fear and panic attacks
  • lack of interest in life
  • loneliness
  • loss of motivation
  • relationship issues
  • sadness and depression

Athletes can feel this way for several reasons:

  • Injuries can have physical effects that directly affect mood
      • constant pain makes it difficult to have a happy positive mood.
      • When you can’t exercise you don’t get the “runner’s high” or dopamine rush that makes you feel good.
      • When an athlete is not exercising AND isr in pain, sleep can be difficult, which in turn can increase the depressed mood.
  • Injuries disrupt daily lives and activities
    • This was mentioned previously – as training and physical habits can be interrupted and halt goals.
    • Without the daily training an athlete is used to they may become bored which can bring up feelings of anger and depression.

Best Ways to Avoid Injury Depression

The number 1 best way to avoid injury depression is to avoid injury! There are several ways to do this as a runner that include the following:
  • Cross train
  • Listen to your body
  • Pay attention when running on uneven surfaces
  • Stretch and roll out the muscles
  • Don’t add miles too quickly
  • Don’t add speed too quickly
  • And more
If you are looking to get serious with your training but want to avoid injury, come train with us at A Better Run! We have one-on-one training, group training, and even virtual training options.
*one-on-one and group training only available in the Utah Valley
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Post Author

Nicole Hillstead-Jones

RRCA Certified Coach & Nutrition Minor