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Sport has long been known to promote a sense of well-being, but at an elite level, athletes are just as likely to suffer from depression as people who don’t do any sport, a new study has found.
The research from the University of Portsmouth is the first of its kind to compare symptoms of depression in elite and non-athletes. It found that elite athletes are no more likely than people who don’t do sport to report mild or more severe depressive symptoms.
Led by Dr Paul Gorczynski from the University’s Department of Sport and Exercise Science, the study examined data from 1545 high-performance athletes and 1811 non-athletes.
The researchers analysed data from five studies involving elite athletes ranging in age from 12 – 41 years, 54 per cent of whom were female. For the non-athletes, 52 per cent of individuals were female and ranged in age from 12 to 81 years. Female athletes were more than half as likely to report symptoms compared to male athletes, which also mirrored non-athletes.