Sports Psychiatry and the Female Athlete

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There is overwhelming evidence to support the concern that female athletes are much more likely to develop eating disorders than females who do not participate in sports. The occurrence is so common, in fact, there is a name for a condition in which eating disorders, Osteoporosis and amenorrhea are present: Female Athlete Triad Syndrome. An estimated 42% of female athletes competing in aesthetic sports (ballet, gymnastics, etc.) demonstrate disordered eating behaviors at some point in their lives.

Female athletes often feel intense pressure to maintain a low weight and low body fat which automatically puts them at risk of developing disordered eating patterns. When coupled with the fact that women face societal pressures to be thin, this can lead to an obsession with calorie counting and excessive exercise. Since it’s especially important to receive adequate nutrients when you’re an athlete, depriving the body of calories can have disastrous effects on a woman’s physical and mental health. Depression, anxiety and low self-esteem are common in female athletes with eating disorders.

Sports psychiatry is especially beneficial to any female athlete who is struggling with these issues. A sports psychiatrist can help tremendously with cognitive therapy and coping techniques and diagnose any medication that may help.