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Weekend Watching: The Connection Between Pro Sports, Mental Illness

Junior Seau. January 19, 1969 - May 2, 2012

In light of the tragic suicide of former NFL linebacker and Hall of Famer Junior Seau, Dr. Teena Shetty and NFL All-Pro and nine-year veteran punter Greg Montgomery, Jr. spoke with Fox News last week about a possible depression epidemic in professional sports.

The two hot topics on the table?

Both the physical and the emotional impacts professional athletes endure.

Dr. Teena Shetty, a neurologist who also works with the New York Mets and the New York Giants, points out that without a clearly documented concussion history, we can’t make a real connection between any concussions Junior Seau had and the state of his mental health.

She does, however, point out that concussions to upset the chemical balance in the brain and that repeated disruptions “may lead to depression.”

(Seau’s family initially considered allowing researchers to study his brain for signs of concussion damage, but they have since reconsidered.)

Montgomery, who’s quickly becoming a household name for helping the public understand the presence of mental illness in the world of professional sports, talks about the emotional side of things: How leaving the world of super stardom behind affects professional sports players.

Making the transition from a Gladiator to Citizen Q is a very difficult process. The injuries and the brain trauma aside, when you’re in the spotlight and all of a sudden the curtain comes down for the final time it’s very difficult to make that transition back into society. I mean, we don’t only have an identity crisis, but we need to reinvent ourselves and fit back in.

In addition to signing on as the president of everyminute.org, a suicide prevention and mental illness research campaign, Montgomery has also worked with larger mental health organizations, hosting a telechat with the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) and speaking at the 2011 Mental Health America Annual Conference.

Fans can attend the public tribute to Junior Seau tonight (May 11, 2012 at 6:30 p.m. PST) at the San Diego Qualcomm Stadium. Admission and parking are free, and in lieu of flowers the family requests donations to the Junior Seau Foundation, Seau’s foundation focusing on child abuse prevention, drug and alcohol awareness, recreational opportunities, anti-juvenile delinquency efforts, and complimentary educational programs.

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Weekend Watching: The Connection Between Pro Sports, Mental Illness

Alicia Sparks

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APA Reference
Sparks, A. (2012). Weekend Watching: The Connection Between Pro Sports, Mental Illness. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 23, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/celebrity/2012/05/weekend-watching-the-connection-between-pro-sports-mental-illness/


Last updated: 11 May 2012
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 11 May 2012
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.