Deep Dive: A Psychoanalysis on Mental Health in Professional Sports


Johnny Mambrino, Editor

Human psychology can sometimes be a very difficult topic to grasp, and when it comes to athletes it can become even more complicated. Even people that work normal 9-5 jobs have stressful lives, but imagine being a professional athlete who does grueling workouts basically all week and travels around the country for games. Those things can take a heavy toll on certain athletes, not just physically but mentally. Although for certain athletes it’s not even about the workouts and the games sometimes it’s a lot more boiled down than that. The three main guys I’ve mentioned in my deep dive so far are Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and DeMar DeRozan. They all deal with some type of depression and anxiety and those problems for them seem like they happened because of certain past experiences. 

Psychoanalysis is loosely defined as a system of therapy that aims to treat mental disorders by investigating the elements in the mind and bringing repressed fears and conflicts into the conscious mind. Essentially I feel like it focuses on what repressed fears and conflicts that have happened in your life so the person can learn to not let those things hold them back and stress them out. DeMar DeRozan said that he has been dealing with moments of depression since he was a kid in Compton, and some of the things he saw growing up have led him to be in his own space and depressed. He told the Toronto Star that the way he saw his friends over the years abuse drugs and alcohol affected him and led to him not drinking alcohol at all. He saw that the reason they were doing it was to cope with their own mental health issues and that was a road he didn’t want to go on. Even before his college and NBA days, Kevin Love stated in his article in The Players Tribune that he never felt like himself unless he was on the basketball court and he didn’t allow himself to live in the moment. 

These guys have been affected by depression and mental health since they were kids and it’s no surprise that it’s affected them as much as it has. Kevin Love had a panic attack in-game in 2018 and DeMar DeRozan who was always just seen as a quiet guy, was like that for a reason.