Anxiety and Depressive Symptoms and Prospective Injury Risk in Collegiate

Li H, Moreland JJ, Peek-Asa C, Yang J. Am J Sports
Med. 2017; ahead of print.

Take Home Message: An athlete
with anxiety symptoms during preseason was more likely to get injured during a
season than an athlete without symptoms.

National College Health Assessment surveys demonstrated that more than 1 in 3 NCAA student athletes reported
anxiety or depressive symptoms. These symptoms can become elevated by the
challenges these student-athletes face (academic demands, relationships, being
away from home). Athletes with anxiety or depression symptoms may be at a
higher risk of injury due to decreased concentration and/or reduced apprehension
to problematic situations; however, this has not been verified in a large
cohort of different sports and both sexes. Therefore, the authors followed 958
NCAA Division I athletes to determine the influence of anxiety and depressive symptoms,
experienced during preseason, on risk of injury from 2 Universities during the
2007 to 2011 seasons. Six hundred and thirty one males (basketball, baseball,
football, and wrestling) and 327 females (basketball, softball, field hockey,
soccer, and volleyball) completed a 20-item survey to measure depression (Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale) and a 20-item survey to measure
anxiety (State-Trait Anxiety Inventory) symptoms during preseason. The authors followed the
athletes through their respective seasons and athletes completed both surveys
again when they sustained an injury. The authors defined an injury as an event
that required medical attention and resulted in loss of play for at least 1 day
from either game or practice. Three hundred and eighty-nine athletes sustained
597 injuries. At preseason, 276 (29%) athletes reported anxiety symptoms, and
208 (22%) reported depressive symptoms. Among athletes reporting any of these
symptoms, 49% (158 athletes) reported having both anxiety and depressive
symptoms. Overall, an athlete who reported preseason anxiety symptoms was more
likely to get injured than an athlete without preseason anxiety symptoms. A male
athlete who reported preseason depressive and anxiety symptoms was 2 times more
likely to experience an injury compared with a male athlete who reported no depressive
or anxiety symptoms. However, this was not the case among female athletes.
Finally, an athlete with only depressive symptoms, regardless of sex, was at no
greater risk for injury.

authors found that 46% of male athletes and 53% of female athletes reported
anxiety and/or depression symptoms at preseason. Hence, many clinicians are
already working with athletes who would report these symptoms and would be at
an increased risk of injury, which could then exacerbate these symptoms. For both
sexes the injury risk was highest for those who reported anxiety symptoms but
not depressive symptoms. This suggests that a medical professional should
assess anxiety and depression separately. The authors’ findings reinforce the
importance of including preseason screening for psychological symptoms. Not
only could preseason screening help recognize athletes who may benefit from
assistance from a healthcare professional but it could also reduce the risk of
injury during a season. This could also be especially valuable since some of
these athletes may not recognize the benefits or want to seek assistance for
anxiety or depression symptoms.  Medical
professionals should understand how to follow through with proper referral for
treatment as well as to ensure that the athletes receive education on effective
coping strategies to further improve overall mental and physical health.

Question for
Discussion: Do you assess for anxiety or depression during preseason and/or
baseline testing? What do you do when you see an athlete with anxiety or
depression symptoms? Do you have access to a psychologist/psychiatrist to refer
athletes with preseason anxiety or depression?

by: Jane McDevitt, PhD
by: Jeff Driban


Athletes with Concussion or Orthopedic Injury Have Similar Social Support Usage and Anxiety Levels

Li H, Moreland JJ, Peek-Asa C, & Yang J (2017). Preseason Anxiety and Depressive Symptoms and Prospective Injury Risk in Collegiate Athletes. The American Journal of Sports Medicine PMID: 28441037