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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Super Stars and Depression

It can be hard for the general population to look at celebrities, movie stars and professional athletes with much sympathy or even empathy for that matter. We look at icons of the spotlight with envy, respect, and admiration; yet, we hardly ever feel bad for them or sorry for them and we certainly never take their feelings into consideration. We never think about what may be going on inside the head of a super star, anxiety or depression two forms of mental illness that can be quite common amongst celebrities, but hardly ever discussed openly.

When we hear of a celebrity overdosing accidentally or intentionally, the two most common responses are, “What a shame!” or “What a waste”. It's almost as if the public will not allow celebrities to have problems, how could they with all that money. The truth is that no amount money, no amount of fame has the power to pull someone's head out of the clouds of depression. Let’s face it, until tragedy strikes, no one ever has any clue that that person was suffering from mental illness, it is easy to hide what one is feeling inside their mind.

Rick Rypien, 27, a forward who had just signed a one-year contract to play for the Winnipeg Jets, was found dead in his apartment Monday. The coroner has not released the official cause of death, but Rypien had dealt with depression for a decade, which almost severally impacted his NHL career several times. New York Ranger Boogaard, a powerful enforcer in the NHL, was found dead in his apartment in May, which was deemed an accident caused by a lethal cocktail of alcohol and painkillers. Let’s face, both Rypien and Boogaard where suffering inside and whether are not the deaths were an accident is irrelevant. What is relevant is that neither of those two superstars got the help they clearly needed and it probably has something to do with the stigma of being famous and having problems.

"I think there remains a significant stigma (about depression) in the general population but more so in the professional athlete," Dr. Don Malone, head of the Psychiatric Neuromodulation Center at the prominent Cleveland Clinic, said.

"There's an aspect to it in the athletes that they want to keep it hidden."

"Athletes are not immune. They can suffer silently."


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