Does marcel kittel have depression?


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Page last updated: 26/10/2022

Does marcel kittel have depression?

In this blog we will discuss Marcel Kittel, depression, and his mental health journey.

Does marcel kittel have depression?

Marcel Kittel, elite cyclist, has opened up about his struggle with his mental health and depression. 

The pro cyclist noted that it is possible that during the time he was ill and was on time off to recover that he could have been suffering from depression. He was not officially diagnosed but he noted”

“Only then did I really fall into a hole,” he said. “I don’t know how depressed people feel, but I think I went in that direction.”(Marva Kreel, Euro Sport)

Marcel Kittel, an elite cyclist is an immensely successful athlete who had unexpectedly retired at age 31 when he was at the height of his career as a cyclist. 

It was rereported that one of the major reasons why he had retired so soon in his career was because of the demanding nature of his fame as a successful athlete and his deteriorating mental and physical health. 

Marva Kreel for eurosports writes that cyclicts like other athletes struggle with mental health problems because of the insulating nature of the sport that the cyclists are subjected to.

It is also speculated that the fame that the career of an athlete is pushed into, constantly in the limelight, is one of the major causes that take the fun out of the game- often leading athletes to struggle with mental health. 

Marcel Kittel noted his own struggle with fame and the fast paced growth of his own career; 

“…that whole first year, time was flying there and success was coming so quickly. It was really hard to digest and I was just on a high the whole time and I thought, okay this will never end.”. (Marva Kreel, Euro Sport)

Kittle also suggested that it is not unique that athletes of high profile sports struggle with depression and mental illness but it is the unique conditions of elite cycling that encourages pushing through mental distress instead of treating and processing it that makes this struggle immensely difficult and isolating. 

He goes on to say 

“…there are all these emotions that you’re going through, but also not going through because as a cyclist, you’re used to the fact that you are suppressing pain”. (Marva Kreel, Euro Sport)

It was during an interview with Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad that he opened up about his own struggle with mental health and his retirement. 

He noted that it is possible that during the time he was ill and was on time off to recover that he could have been suffering from depression. He was not officially diagnosed but he noted”

“Only then did I really fall into a hole,” he said. “I don’t know how depressed people feel, but I think I went in that direction.”

He also noted that one of the major problems with treating mental health when one is an elite professional athlete is the stigma and the fears of seeming “weak”  when one seeks out help. 

It was soon after his experience with depression when he started questioning his career and no longer found meaning in continuing cycling that he soon chose to retire even when he had many years still left in his extraordinary career. 

Does marcel kittel have depression?

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. 


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.


In this blog we have discussed Marcel Kittel, depression, and his mental health journey.

FAQ related to marcel kittel depression

What does Marcel Kittel do now?

Since retirement, Kittel has become a father to his first son Lex, now five months old, and he went back to college, studying for an economics degree. 

Did Marcel Kittel retire?

Yes Marcel Kittel retired in 2019 on account of his physical and mental health and he also noted that it was because he no longer found meaning in pursuing his career. 

Was marcel kittel depressed?

It is not officially known if he was diagnosed with depression however, according to his own reports in an interview- he has come close to depression during his time off to recover for his illness. 


Johnny Long. ‘I don’t know how depressed people feel, but I think I went in that direction’ says Marcel Kittel, who also reveals post-cycling plans. Cycling Weekly. Retrieved on 26th April 2022.

Marva Kreel. Marcel Kittel – From Sprint Star To Mental Health Champion. Eurosport. Retrieved On 26th April 2022.