Sports can be physically, mentally, and emotionally hard on an athlete, and psychiatry can be a helpful tool to improve performance. Sports psychiatrists focus on improving the athlete’s mental state, both on and off the field.
As a board-certified psychiatrist, Dr. Ifeanyi Olele of Genesis Psychiatric Solutions offers psychotherapy (talk therapy) and other help to boost your confidence and improve your sports performance.
Sports psychiatry basics
Sports psychiatry may seem like a relatively new subspecialty in the psychiatry field, but it’s been around for decades.
Emphasis on treating mental illness in athletes dates back 20 years in Major League Baseball, with screenings for mental health and treatment for any issues mandated for baseball players.
Female athletes who are vulnerable to eating disorders are also becoming more likely to get sports psychiatry services.
Mental illness in sports can be the result of incredible pressure, the use of steroids, abuse by coaches or doctors, or stressors related to the sport.
A benefit of treating any or all of these issues is enhanced performance. With treatment, the athlete can focus energy formerly used to deal with mental health issues back on the game.
Mental health issues common in athletes
The following issues are common in athletes of all genders in all types of sports:
- Depression — caused by feelings of not measuring up to expectations
- Anxiety — over their performance and success in their career
- Bipolar disorder — common in extremely driven athletes
- Anorexia nervosa and bulimia — frequent tormentor of gymnasts and swimmers
- ADHD — many people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder find sports therapeutic
Providing sports psychiatry services can help coaches ensure their players and athletes are able to receive the help they need to achieve a balanced mental state and improve their game.
How it works
The main function of a sports psychiatrist is to help athletes efficiently and effectively manage anything in their lives that may be causing inner turmoil. Dysfunction can include:
- Inner thoughts of self-hatred or inadequacy
- A continuing cycle of family conflict
- Career-related concerns (can be related to injury or fear of injury)
- Substance abuse issues
- Eating disorders (more common in female athletes)
- Aggressive and risk-taking behaviors (more common in male athletes)
Sports psychiatry both explores how outside influences (like coaches, family, peers, lovers, and trainers) affect athletic performance and identifies effective treatment. Such treatment can include behavioral therapy, talk therapy (psychotherapy) and medication, if required.
If you believe that you or your child needs help, get in touch with us by visiting our contact page. We’re located in McLean, Virginia, and Washington, DC.