Early Guidance, Preventive Therapy Urged for Young Athletes
Features Ira D. Glick, MD, Stanford University
The recent death of former professional football player Junior Seau from apparent suicide once again highlights the need for elite athletes of all ages to receive early counselling and perhaps even mandatory prophylactic talk therapy to prevent psychiatric illness later in life in this high-risk population.
These were just some of the suggestions that emerged from a roundtable discussion between mental health professionals and several former and current athletes held here at the American Psychiatric Association's (APA's) 2012 Annual Meeting and hosted by the International Society for Sports Psychiatry (ISSP).
Junior Seau's death closely follows 2 other recent suicides by former National Football League (NFL) players Ray Easterling and Dave Duerson. All 3 players suffered multiple concussions during their careers, and Easterling, who was the eldest of the 3, had been diagnosed with dementia.
Retired NFL player Duerson, who reportedly believed he was suffering from the effects of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), shot himself in the chest and requested that his brain be donated to science. A degenerative condition, CTE can lead to depression, uncontrolled impulses, and dementia.
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Posted to Members in the News & Publications on May 16, 2012