by Brad Wolverton
A new study of nearly 500 Division I athletes has found that almost one-quarter reported signs of depression over the past three years, with rates higher among women than men.
Female track-and-field athletes had the highest prevalence of depressive symptoms (38 percent), while male lacrosse players had the lowest (12 percent), according to the study, released on Wednesday.
Over all, about 24 percent of athletes across nine sports reported feeling depressed.
The study — by researchers at Drexel University, Kean University, and the College of New Jersey — was published online in theBritish Journal of Sports Medicine.
The findings are consistent with research from the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the National College Health Assessment regarding the overall incidence of depression among athletes.
The new study reaffirms that, in general, college athletes are not at a greater risk for depression than their non-athlete peers, Brian Hainline, the NCAA’s chief medical officer, said in an email.
The takeaway from the latest research, he said, is that depression is common in athletes, and colleges must take a comprehensive approach to recognizing and treating it.
The NCAA recently released a 40-page document highlighting best practices for mental-health care. Among its recommendations are that colleges and universities have written institutional procedures for managing emergency mental-health situations as well as routine health referrals.