Does Aaron Rodgers have depression?

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In this blog we will discuss Aaron Rodgers and his experiences with depression. 

Does Aaron Rodgers have depression?

Aaron Rodgers, Quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, has not exactly confirmed if he has been diagnosed with depression however, he has been opne about his mental health struggles. 

Rodgers was recently in the limelight when he had to take a step back from training and the season on account of his mental health. 

There has been some doubts as to when exactly or whether he would return to the field after his bout of break for his mental health following the controversy surrounding his skipping minicamp.

In an interview with ESPN, he has opened up about his own mental health:

“I’m very thankful for the opportunity to work on my mental health,” Rodgers said. “I haven’t dealt with bouts of depression or anything that I think for whatever reason, are OK to talk about if you’re talking about mental health.” (SportsCasting)

It has to be mentioned that he has not confirmed a diagnosis of depression however, it does appear that he was under mental distress during the time as is the case of many NFL players such as with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott who struggled with depression after the death of his brother Jace. 

Aaron Rodgers goes on to say that during this time he has been able to get into healthy habits and discipline his mind and body to help him cope and manage his mental health during this break. 

In his conversation with ESPN he noted:

“I’ve just really been trying to think about what puts me in the best frame of mind. What habits can I form that allows me to feel most in my body, most present, happiest? And that’s what I’ve been doing.” (SportsCasting)

The conversation of mental health and depression has recently become a major topic for NFL because of the deaths and suicides of Junior Seau who played for the New England Patriots and Dave Duerson for the San Diego Chargers. 

Many individuals spectuate that their mental illnesses could be a result of deteriorating brain function as a result of chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE, that is often reported in football players as a result of the many concussions that they experience as they play the game. 

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a degenerative brain condition that is brought on gradually and progressively becomes worse. 

It is speculated that it is caused by repeated blows to the head and repeated episodes of concussion. 

The condition is associated with contact sports, such as boxing or American football and most studies on the condition have been based on sports athletes in this field. 

The condition Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is often the cause of depression and mental health disorders for many football players, often deadly and leading to death by suicide. 

During his address, Aaron Rodgers has opened up about his mental health however he did not clearly say what he was struggling with nor did he confirm nor deny his return to the field. 

Rodgers has addressed the issue of mental health amongst pro athletes and has openly called out the fact that while mental health is so important it is not talked about enough. 

He advocated for mental health as he said,

“The mental side of it is so important for all of us athletes, I don’t think it’s talked about enough. But taking time to work on yourself is, I think, the best gift any of us can give ourselves.”

Rodgers has highlighted the need for prayers and pro athletes to take the time to work on one’s self and take care of one’s mental health which could be the best one can do for themselves as well as the team. 

What is depression?

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a leading publication used for diagnosis of mental disorders by mental health professionals, Major depressive disorder or depression is a serious mood disorder.

Depression is marked by the following symptoms:

  • Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day- either by their own observation or observation made by others.
  • Diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
  • Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia. 
  • A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
  • Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.

Depression symptoms also include extremely low mood and fatigue and is often accompanied by thoughts of worthlessness and hopelessness which can lead to suicidal ideation and even attempts. 

Depression related symptoms such as inability to focus, lack of energy, and hopelessness can impact a person’s ability to work and meet the demands of their daily lives. 

People with depression often struggle with low self esteem and self worth which can cause them to negatively assess themselves. They may fear rejection and abandonment from other people which may cause them to isolate themselves in a bid to protect themselves.

This social withdrawal can make it difficult for them to maintain social commitments and relationships as they might choose to push people away especially when they do not have the skills to communicate and manage their emotions and thoughts. 

While these are some of the ways depression impacts a person, the disorder itself can cause the quality of life of people who have it to drastically decrease and in extreme cases, if the disorder is left untreated, it can lead to suicide attempts and death. 

How to cope and manage if you have depression?

Here are a few things you can do to cope with depression:

Seek professional help

If you have not been diagnosed, do not stick to self diagnosis based on your symptoms. Seek out professional consultations starting with your GP who can refer you to specialists in the field. 

There may be different medications- some which might work for you while others that might not help you. 

Taking time to find a doctor who can help you with estimating the right dosage of medication and the right medical treatment can make the quality of your journey to recovery drastically different. 

Reduce stress

If it’s a job that is causing you immense stress, maybe it is time to consider taking a leave of absence. Or it could be your own family environment that is causing your symptoms to flare up- consider moving out if your financial situation persists. 

The intent here is to reduce or remove the things in your life that add stress. If it is a certain relationship, taking the time to set boundaries or communicate that you are taking time out can be one way. 

By reducing stressors, the thought of waking up and facing your day may seem a little less daunting, you might even look forward to it. 

Learn and apply coping skills

If you are depressed, you can learn coping skills and techniques and apply them at least once a day when experiencing depression. 

This can be learning how to tackle your anxieties and negative moods by regulating your breathing and engaging in deep breathing techniques. 

You can also try grounding techniques to help you cope with spiralling down a negative rumination. Make goals for each day and let your goals be small, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound, 

Make plans for your day that suit your pace- if today is especially difficult, make a step by step plan from your bed to the bathroom in the mornings. Reward yourself when you succeed and be kind when you slip up. Remind yourself that you are learning. 

Exercise

Engaging in exercise, even if it is only a 15 minute stretch can be a wonderful step towards loving yourself and caring for yourself. 

You can opt for joining the gym however, if this is too much you can consider yoga or pilates that you can start gradually; you can also go for walks or runs alone or with your loved ones. 

Getting out of your house and doing something that allows you to get your blood pumping in itself can be a great way of self care. 

Eat a healthy diet

Diet is an important aspect of overall health and is an important component of maintaining a positive state of mental health. 

There has been plenty of research studies that have been linked to what we eat and higher risks of depression. Research finds that well balanced meals with adequate intake of vegetables, fruits, grain, and healthy fats are related to lower risks of depression.

Sleep well

Take time to improve your sleep hygiene. Research has found that sleep disorders are also a core symptom of depression. Irregular sleep and not enough sleep can make your healing process difficult and can even heighten the risk of relapse. 

Some of the things you can do to improve your sleep hygiene are

  • Avoid substances that impact your sleep, this includes caffeine. 
  • Exercise daily
  • Avoid heavy dinners
  • Change your sleeping environment to be more soothing and sleep inducing. 
  • Make changes in your pre-sleep routine such as taking relaxing baths before sleep, avoiding gadgets two hours before sleeping time.

Connect with loved ones

Reaching out to people who love you and letting them know that you are having a hard time now, can bring you closer to people who truly love and care for you.

These are positive relationships we want and need around you as you begin your journey to recovery. Positive relationships help you discover joys and meaning to your life. 

Make plans to meet them for lunch, or go for a walk with them. Make sure you make clear what you can and cannot do and agree on something that both you and them can enjoy. 

You can also take the step to connect with other people who are coping with depression through group therapy or support groups.

Oftentimes, listening to other people’s successes can instil hope, it also gives you the opportunity to learn new perspectives of living and life along with new techniques to cope.

Conclusion

In this blog we have discussed Aaron Rodgers and his experiences with depression. 

References

Stacey Mickles. Aaron Rodgers Talks About the State of His Mental Health in a New Interview. SportsCasting. Retrieved on 26th April 2022. https://www.sportscasting.com/aaron-rodgers-talks-state-his-mental-health-new-interview/

Mike Florio. Aaron Rodgers says he worked on his mental health this offseason. ProFootballTalk. Retrieved on 26th April 2022. https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2021/07/05/aaron-rodgers-says-he-worked-on-his-mental-health-this-offseason/

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy. NHS. Retrieved on 26th April 2022. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/chronic-traumatic-encephalopathy/#:~:text=Chronic%20traumatic%20encephalopathy%20(CTE)%20is,are%20based%20on%20ex%2Dathletes.

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