According to new research, athletes who experience concussions are more likely to suffer from common mental disorders (CMD) like anxiety, sleep disturbance, and depression later on in life.
A survey published in Physician and Sportsmedicine looked at 576 male football players, ice hockey players, and rugby players from around the world. All participants were under the age of 50.
Former athletes who sustained four or five concussions during their careers were one and a half times more likely to report CMD symptoms than those who had no concussions. Those who suffered six or more concussions were between two and five times more likely to experience problems.
This information shows that during the first decade after a player retires, they are 7% to 11% more likely to report CMD symptoms for each concussion.
Former professional football player Dr. Vincent Gouttebarge was the study’s lead author. Gouttebarge said in a statement, “This is an important piece of research that suggest concussion might be a contributor to the mental health problems suffered by many players.”
Fellow authors of the study suggest experts getting involved in attempts to diagnose and manage concussions better.
There is already a world-wide issue of getting people involved in sports. In fact, less than 5% of adults do 30 minutes of exercise each day and only one in three adults participate in the weekly recommended amount of physical activity. Without proper management of physical activity-related injuries, adults will be even less motivated to participate in physical activity.
Other research shows that concussion recovery is slower in female athletes. Recovery typically takes female athletes at least twice as long as males, showing healing processes may vary by sex.
This study looked at the medical records of 212 high school athletes, 110 boys and 102 girls, who had experienced a concussion while playing an organized sport. The analysis revealed the average recovery time was about 28 days for girls and only 11 days for boys.
Experts are calling for not only more education and management of sport-related injuries, but also more support for those ex-athletes battling mental health issues.
Around the world, possible links between mental health issues and concussions are being explored and new studies are being conducted to find solutions.