Professional athletes are subject to massive somatic, social, and mental stress. Despite great public interest for athletic achievements, the emotional strains thereof are very poorly investigated and discussed. The main reason for this is the widespread assumption that only emotionally very strong athletes are able to compete at the highly professional level and therefore mental disorders do not exist in professional sports. But available research data about the prevalence of mental disorders in this area suggest that this hypothesis must be revised. With respect to depression and the overtraining syndrome, attempts have been made to demonstrate the difficulties with etiology, diagnostics, and treatment for sports psychiatry and psychotherapy. Scientifically, sport psychiatry and psychotherapy can be defined as a discipline, whose focus is the investigation, treatment, and prevention of the extreme and sports-specific emotional strains and disorders. In addition to sport psychology, which focuses mainly on performance enhancement, mental stress, and disorders can hereby be recognized, disorders be treated and the athletic performance sustained. With the foundation of the Task Force for Sports Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the German Association for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, scientific research, further education, prevention, and treatment for mental disorders in professional sports will be improved.
Selection hypothesisPrevalenceSport psychiatrySport psychotherapyOvertraining syndromeSport-specific diagnosis and treatmentQualification