“What have you got to feel depressed about?” For anyone who has suffered from anxiety, depression or related mental health conditions, that is a reaction that is familiar. People might not say it straight out – but the sentiment is often all too clear, lying unspoken behind the eyes.
England and Tottenham left-back Danny Rose is someone who knows that better than most. He’s just been part of England’s most successful World Cup run in a generation. He plays the sport that he loves for a living, and gets paid £65,000 per week to do so. So what’s he got to be depressed about?
Of course, we all know that the question is as meaningless as asking what someone has got to have a headache about, or diabetes or epilepsy or heart disease. Nevertheless, there is still that perception among some people that mental health conditions are something we can choose to “snap out of.” This makes Rose’s decision to talk openly to the media about his battle with depression all the more laudable.
A brave decision
The 27 year old gave an in-depth interview to The Mirror that was “astonishingly frank” and discussed the suicide of his uncle, his own battle with injury, a gun attack on his brother and the racial abuse his own mother suffered. All of these contributed towards his being diagnosed with depression.
Rose feels that the injury he suffered was the defining factor. With the other hardships that had happened in his life, the sport became what he called his salvation. And when he found himself sidelined in January, he saw the possibility of it all coming to an end, and his World Cup dream evaporating.
In the macho world of football, Rose’s honesty has been described as a “game changer” by Sam Wallace of the Telegraph, and as “brave and honest” by England legend Gary Linekar. He has truly lifted the lid on depression as a medical condition that can affect anyone.
What treatment did he have?
One of the problems that professional sports stars face is that the typical medications that might be prescribed for a whole range of conditions are outlawed by the sport. As a result, Rose and his doctors had to be cautious. He was prescribed a course of antidepressants earlier this year, and was also taking cortisone injections for his knee injury.
He is now no longer taking any medication at all. The knee has clearly recovered, but what about the depression? It might sound intangible, but depression often has an entirely physical cause, which is a deficiency in serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects mood and other emotions. Fortunately, there are natural ways to boost serotonin through diet, supplements and, of course, the 5-HTP+ patch.
Everyone involved in the England football team can look back on this year’s World Cup with pride as a result of the team’s performance. But Danny Rose has achieved something even more important, and his willingness to openly discuss depression is something that will touch millions.