Ending an Elite Sports Career: Case Report of Behavioral Activation Applied as an Evidence-Based Intervention With a Former Olympic Athlete Developing Depression

in The Sport Psychologist

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Carolina LundqvistSwedish Olympic Committee
Linköping University

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This case report described the use of behavioral activation when a former Olympic athlete developed depression after career termination. Four sessions were conducted, one session each week, followed by a boost session 1 month later. In Session 1, the former Olympic athlete displayed mild-to-moderate depression with anxiety and a low quality of life (Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating Scale = 21; Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 Scale = 17; Brunnsviken Brief Quality of Life Scale = 44). By Session 3, the Olympic athlete no longer met the diagnostic criteria for clinical depression or anxiety (Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating Scale = 2; Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 Scale = 7) and the quality of life was improved (Brunnsviken Brief Quality of Life Scale = 60). Follow-up assessments 1-year posttreatment confirmed that the former Olympic athlete continued to improve (Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating Scale = 0; Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 Scale = 0; Brunnsviken Brief Quality of Life Scale = 96). This case report discusses the benefits of proactive support to elite athletes and the use of established clinical psychological treatments, for example, behavioral activation, when athletes develop health-related conditions.

The author (carolina.lundqvist@liu.se) is with the Swedish Olympic Committee, Stockholm, Sweden; and the Dept. of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden.

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