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Lone athletes more prone to depression

AAP logoAAP 12/12/2016 John von Radowitz

Lone athletes are more prone to depression than team competitors, say psychologists.

German scientists investigating burn-out and depression in sport studied a cross-section of 162 elite and 199 junior athletes.

They found that sport-specific stress combined with insufficient time for recovery was associated with symptoms of depression.

Athletes in individual sports such as tennis and boxing produced significantly higher scores for depression than those playing for teams.

Professor Beckmann, from the Technical University of Munich, said: "Our research suggests that depression is particularly high in young athletes, with athletes in individual sports being more vulnerable.

"In Germany, we have developed a burnout and screening instrument for junior athletes and a website to give them advice on coping with stress and other psychological problems they may experience."

A further "longitudinal" study of 85 junior athletes surveyed three times over the course of a year found that negative attitude and a resigned coping style both predicted higher rates of depression and burn-out.

Depression was especially associated with lack of time to recover from stress, said the researchers who presented their findings at the British Psychological Society's sport and exercise psychology meeting in Cardiff.

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