Depression in Youth: An Olympic Athlete’s Story

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When we think of Olympic athletes, we see them as almost god-like figures. The things they achieve seem impossible and amazing. In reality, we often forget that they are regular hard working people, similar to many of us. Many of them have personal struggles. Allison Schmitt, an Olympic swimming champion, recently spoke out on the stigma on depression in youth. An article by ESPN discusses her story with depression and highlights on her talk about the importance of eliminating the stigma on depression.

Allison Schmitt Opens Up About Depression in Youth

Allison Schmitt recently opened up her story of depression. After the Olympic games in London, she battled with multiple symptoms that are common to those found in depression. She states that people always saw her as an upbeat, regular girl who just happened to swim fast. She often hid behind false smiles because that’s what people expected of her, to be this upbeat girl.

Allison didn’t understand why she was dealing with depression, she had great friends, a supportive family, and a top-shelf training group. She tried to push through the pain she felt, which is what many individuals do when they are battling with depression. Allison’s pain didn’t go away, it just continued to get worse.

Schmitt’s Experience with Depression

Many of the symptoms found in depression that Allison was experiencing included: interrupted sleep; she often woke up crying or laughing for no reason. For months Allison held in her issues of depression, constantly battling thoughts of suicide. It wasn’t until her cousin—a fellow Olympic athlete—committed suicide that she finally realized she needed help and needed to publicize the issues with the stigma on depression in youth.

Allison states:

“I knew this was a time that I could save the next person who was struggling, the next person who thinks their life is not worth it.”

Athletes, especially athletes dealing with depression, can resist seeking help because they’re so conditioned to project images of strength and tenacity. Many are worried about what their coaches and teammates will thing; they worry if it will affect their playing time. Which is why Allison is fighting for all athletes, to break the stigma of depression in youth.

If your child is battling with depression in youth, there are programs available that can help.

Trails Carolina Can Help


Trails Carolina is a wilderness therapy program for struggling teens, ages 10-17. Our students commonly deal with issues such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, trauma, and other behavioral challenges.

For more information about Trails Carolina, please call 800-975-7303 today!


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