11 Facts About Athletes with Anxiety
An estimated 20%-30% of teens suffer from an anxiety disorder. Numbers are likely to rise with athletes like Michael Phelps and Kevin Love raising awareness and reducing the stigma.
This is not pre-race jitters. That’s the “good” anxiety that spikes right before a race, helping you bring your A-game but then passing once the race is done. Chronic anxiety doesn’t go away.
Chronic anxiety can affect every aspect of an athlete’s life. It’s tough to spot because is symptoms are so varied and mimic other conditions.
Anxiety can look like defiance, laziness or anger. It’s not. It’s the brain’s fight or flight mechanism on constant alert.
Anxiety can cause very real physical symptoms. Common are stomach aches, weak or tight muscles, sweats, dizziness and fatigue (just to name a few).
Anxiety can look like ADHD. Symptoms can include difficulty with concentration and impulse control and a need to move.
Anxiety thrives on avoidance. In that moment the athlete feels that she literally cannot do whatever she fears.
Some anxious kids won’t know what is making them feel so terrible. The anxiety can become that generalized.
The negative behavior can be totally unrelated to the source of the anxiety. A kid who is anxious about leaving for college might refuse to run laps or yell at a teammate or skip practice all together.
Logic goes totally offline when anxiety kicks in. Your reassurance is literally falling on deaf ears (and breeds more anxiety).
A sense of control and capability is anxiety’s kryptonite. You can help foster this.