Anxiety in Athletes

Anxiety in Athletes

By Fiona McDermut

            Anxiety disorders are quite common in recent times, and can interfere with completing simple daily tasks. One population in which anxiety disorders can be particularly concerning is student athletes. Student athletes experience a tremendous amount of pressure coming from multiple facets of life. This includes pressure to perform/compete well, pressure to attend athletic training daily, pressure to maintain a healthy/fit figure, and the pressure to keep up with academic assignments. Competition and a moderate level of stress have proven to be beneficial to performance in many circumstances, but the overwhelming stress that often results from being a student athlete can be debilitating and may impact success.

            Although athletes may be at an increased risk for anxiety disorders, they often find that their schedules are too busy to seek help. In order to perform physically to one’s fullest potential, mental health is just as important as physical health. Anxiety can cause both mental and physiological symptoms that can impact athletic performance.

These symptoms include:

  • Feeling powerless
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Trembling

            While decreasing the level of competition and pressure for student athletes may be a lost cause, there are ways to help deal with the feelings of anxiety that accompany this. First and foremost, it is crucial to allow yourself to take a day off when the pressure becomes too overwhelming. Do something that makes you happy, or simply give your body and mind a day of relaxation. This is especially important if you are injured, or not feeling well mentally or physically.

            If feelings of anxiety persist, it can be helpful to seek therapy. Therapy sessions provide an outlet to share emotions, as well as a professional who can help to manage anxiety. Some of the main treatments for anxiety include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Psychotherapy, and medication (mainly SSRIs and antidepressants). A mental health professional will work with your personal needs to establish the most effective treatment plan.

If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit


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