The glamour of being at the height of their football career is unparallel. This glamour and stress of a professional football grows fainter when the player retires, and very soon replaced with depression. This is highlighted by the new study done at the University of Michigan Health System.
The chronic pain of the injuries that the players sustain during the height of their career often come to fore once they retire. This coupled with sleeping problem as seen in many players after retirement often leads to severe depression.
The transition to retirement is often difficult. There are other factors which add to the miseries of the player such as lack of exercise, loss of fitness, lack of social support and friendship, financial difficulties. There are sometimes even cases of abuse of prescribed medicines, alcohol and drugs.
The study was conducted by lead researcher Dr. Thomas L. Schwenk. Schwenk's group surveyed 3,377 retired members of the NFL Players Association. Of the 1,594 who responded, almost 15 percent reported moderate to severe depression, a figure comparable to the general public.
The study came to fore at a time of a tragic incident involving a former NFL player who committed suicide.
Schwenk says "On retirement, athletes have reported jarring transitions to a life in which the focus of such intense commitment is unclear, the resources and personnel that organized and managed their lives away from the competition venue are lost, and the rewards, both emotional and financial, are diminished."
The player reported that they often found difficult to seek help for their problems. They would rather use the help of family and friend or spiritual help to solve their problems. Many a times lack of insurance coverage or a lack of recognition added to their woes.
Eric Hipple, a retired Detroit Lions quarterback who now is outreach coordinator for the U-M Depression Center says "What our research tells us is that this population of retired professional athletes would benefit from a proactive educational and clinical outreach program, possibly beginning even before retirement, as a way to help improve the likelihood that retired NFL players will achieve a high quality of life after football,"