Tag Archive for 'depressione'

The anxious generation

In the summer of 2022, I was working on a book project — Life After Babel: Adapting to a world we can no longer share — about how smartphones and social media rewired many societies in the 2010s, creating conditions that amplify the long-known weaknesses of democracy. The first chapter was about the impact of social media on kids, who were the “canaries in the coal mine,” revealing early signs that something was going wrong. When adolescents’ social lives moved onto smartphones and social media platforms, anxiety and depression surged among them. The rest of the book was going to focus on what social media had done to liberal democracies.

I quickly realized that the rapid decline of adolescent mental health could not be explained in one chapter—it needed a book of its own. So, The Anxious Generation is Volume 1, in a sense, of the larger Babel project. The book will be published March 26, 2024.

I begin The Anxious Generation by examining adolescent mental health trends. What happened to young people in the early 2010s that triggered the surge of anxiety and depression around 2012?

Percent of U.S. undergraduates with different mental illness, 2008-2019

What happened to young people in the early 2010s? 

The Anxious Generation offers an explanation by telling two stories. The first is about the decline of the play-based childhood, which began in the 1980s and accelerated in the ‘90s. All mammals need free play, and lots of it, to wire up their brains during childhood to prepare them for adulthood. But many parents in Anglo countries began to reduce children’s access to unsupervised outdoor free play out of media-fueled fears for their safety, even though the “real world” was becoming increasingly safe in the 1990s. The loss of free play and the rise of continual adult supervision deprived children of what they needed most to overcome the normal fears and anxieties of childhood: the chance to explore, test and expand their limits, build close friendships through shared adventure, and learn how to judge risks for themselves.

The second story is about the rise of the phone-based childhood, which began in the late 2000s and accelerated in the early 2010s. This was precisely the period during which adolescents traded in their flip phones for smartphones, which were loaded with social media platforms supported by the new high-speed internet and unlimited data plans.

The confluence of these two stories in the years between 2010 and 2015 is what I call the “Great Rewiring of Childhood.” Few of us understood what was happening in children’s virtual worlds and we lacked the knowledge to protect them from tech companies that had designed their products to be addictive.

For this reason, we ended up overprotecting children in the real world while underprotecting them in the virtual world.

Depression in élite athletes

When I started working as a sports psychologist in the eighties, it was written that athletes displayed well-balanced personalities. That seems like a geological era ago.  At that time, there were far fewer athletes, less frequent competitions, less pressing competitive stress, less public exposure of athletes, and fewer sponsors in their lives. This meant that on the shoulders of the athletes there were fewer expectations coming from the social and sporting environment, less pressure to achieve perfectionism and continuous winning results.

Athletes were socially more free and less constrained to meet demands outside of them. I believe that this obvious difference from today is one of the causes of the greater frequency of cases of psychopathology that affect top athletes today. Last among all, the one witnessed by the words of Naomi Osaka, n.2 of women’s world tennis, who retired during Roland Garros.

Unfortunately it is not even entirely true what has been said about the athletes of 40/50 years ago, because if we think even only of the former East Germany we find that the athletes of this nation were not at all free to choose and the scientific use of State doping has created for them not only physical problems but also psychological diseases. The same is true for many athletes in the Western world who used illicit practices to achieve their sporting results.

The basic question to be studied is whether the sporting world that has become extremely competitive (and this is also true of the world of work) is the main (environmental) stressor that provokes in young an existential short circuit that encourages them to feel below their expectations and those required of them. The inability to adapt with effective strategies to these demands can determine an emotional imbalance that the rational mind alone can no longer manage.

Depression - It can be a transitory sadness or a debilitating mental illness, needing clinical treatment. Generally, those affected present with disturbed mood, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, loss of interest or pleasure, low energy, and poor concentration. These problems can become pervasive or recurrent, and lead to great difficulties in a person’s ability to attend to his or her everyday activities. Endemic in current society, depression is listed by WHO as the leading cause of disability and the fourth leading contributor to the global burden of disease (second among adolescents and adults younger than age 45 years) in terms of years of life affected.

Why does exercise remain underutilized in clinical practice?

Ekkekakis, P. Why Is Exercise Underutilized in Clinical Practice Despite Evidence It Is Effective? Lessons in Pragmatism From the Inclusion of Exercise in Guidelines for the Treatment of Depression in the British National Health Service.

Kinesiology Review, 2020

Exercise remains greatly underutilized in clinical practice for reasons that are only partly understood. This critical review situates the problem within the broader political and economic context. It focuses on depression, the leading cause of disability worldwide, and the processes that followed the inclusion of exercise as a treatment option in clinical practice guidelines in the British National Health Service. The review highlights previously unaddressed phenomena, including antiexercise lobbying by primary care physicians and efforts to present the evidence for the antidepressant effects of exercise as weak, nonexistent, or methodologically flawed. Notably, the field of kinesiology remained silent while these processes unfolded. This information suggests that the path from research evidence to implementation in clinical settings remains dependent on factors beyond the amount and quality of research evidence. The review underscores the need to vigilantly monitor, critically appraise, and actively participate in the clinical research literature and the development of guidelines.

The data about the stress from coronavirus

An international study, led by the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (Spain) spin-off Open Evidence, has revealed that the mental health of 41% of the UK population is at risk as a result of the coronavirus crisis. The research project, which involves the participation of researchers from the Glasgow University, Università degli Studi di Milano, Università degli Studi di Trento, Tilburg University and the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, indicates that almost 60% of the UK population require “the government not only to focus on containing the virus, but also on preventing a major economic crisis”.

The data collected in the first survey, which sampled 10,551 people (3,523 in the United Kingdom, 3,524 in Spain and 3,504 in Italy) between 24 April and 1 May, show that most of the population between 18 and 75 years of age report having felt down, depressed, or hopeless about the future at some point during this period: 57% in the United Kingdom, 67% in Spain and 59% in Italy. In the words of Cristiano Codagnone, co-founder of one of the participating entities, UOC spin-off Open Evidence, “the data provides a picture on the impact of the lockdown and we need to be prepared for the associated social and health consequences of that”.

The analysis of this data alongside additional factors such as housing type (full ownership, mortgaged property, rental, etc.), living conditions (square metres of accommodation, number of people living there, presence of school-age children), loss of employment, closure of own business, loss of income and access to COVID-19 testing has provided a general gauge in relation to people’s state of mental health in the three countries. The results reveal that the mental health of 41% of people in the UK is at risk, with figures of 46% and 42% registered for Spain and Italy, respectively.

Coco Gauff and her depression

Coco Gauff, 16 years old young new international tennis star. wrote on the website Behind The Raquet to have been depressed for a year, although getting good sports results has never been a problem and lives in a family where she is well and that accepts her. Nevertheless, something in this life with early successes has been a stimulus to develop depression from which she claims to have recently emerged.

“Sometimes I felt too busy compared to others. Most of my friends go to normal high school. I felt like they were always so happy to be ‘normal’. For a while I thought I wanted to be, but then I realized that, just like social media, not everyone is as happy as what you see in their posts. It took me about a year to get over this idea”.

In this blog, we have often talked about how sport can be a highly stressful situation for young people who dedicate a large part of their lives to succeed in tennis as well as in any other sport discipline. The high level of success achieved in adolescence, the total investment in a single sporting activity and the obvious reduction in social life to which the athlete is subjected, as well as the increasing pressures brought about by ever higher sporting expectations and the external environment can lead to psychological problems. These often appear with the spread of a feeling of estrangement from the present and depression as a lack of the idealized normal life that peers seem to lead.

If then the sport successes are experienced as an end on which to play the self-confidence and not as a means to realize oneself certainly as an athlete but above all as a person, the psychopathological disorders can find a fertile ground on which to develop.If you discover that you only play to win games, to become rich, to have the privileges that top athletes have, sport life becomes an endless chase to always have something more to be happy.

You can play tennis also for these reasons, absolutely legitimate, but if you don’t put yourself at the center of your sports project with the awareness of your skills and deficiencies, the risk of not holding up to the pressures inherent in sports-agonistic activity will be very high.

Here are the statements by Coco Gauff.

“I’ve always wondered how better or worse my life would be without tennis. With what this sport has given me I cannot imagine my life would be better without. At times I found myself too busy comparing myself to others. Most of my friends go to normal high school. I felt like they always seemed so happy being ‘normal’. For a while I thought I wanted that but then I realized that just like social media everyone isn’t as happy as what you see in their posts. It took me about a year to get over that idea. Again, my results were still okay, so this didn’t have much to do with tennis. I just wasn’t happy playing anyway. My parents did a great job of trying to make sure I did ‘normal’ childhood things. I was able to go to homecoming this past year and was planning on going to prom until the coronavirus. I do try to see friends as much as I can. My parents both work so I do spend a lot of time at home alone. It is challenging to do school alone while you can’t socialize with other students. Even though I may miss some things, I think this lifestyle I live is perfect for me, and it’s not for everyone. Traveling is never easy. I have two younger brothers and we are all really close. Every time I leave them it hurts a bit. I miss one of my brothers’ birthday every year because it falls right in the middle of the French Open. Through this all I am so lucky to have them because they aren’t the ones to be jealous. They don’t mind me getting more attention, they understand and are always supportive of what I do.

Throughout my life, I was always the youngest to do things, which added hype that I didn’t want. It added this pressure that I needed to do well fast. Once I let that all go, that when I started to have the results I wanted. Right before Wimbledon, going back to around 2017/18, I was struggling to figure out if this was really what I wanted. I always had the results so that wasn’t the issue, I just found myself not enjoying what I loved. I realized I needed to start playing for myself and not other people. For about a year I was really depressed. That was the toughest year for me so far. Even though I had, it felt like there

The mindset of the people who do not respect the rules

As long as I breathe I hope,” Cicero said, today we could translate it into “as long as there is life there is hope,” more brutal but equally true. The coronavirus affects precisely this capacity that is at the basis of the physiological and psychological needs of living beings. You may not drink or eat for a few days, but you can’t breath for a few minutes if you are not a champion of underwater apnea. Correct breathing is at the base of self-control and the stresses of our daily life determine as a first negative effect our own breathing problems. Fear makes us block our breath, anger hates it to allow us to scream at someone, sadness reduces it to a trickle of air that goes in and out and anxiety makes us breathe in a shallow and superficial way. Breathing reflects our level of physical fitness and well-being and one of the effects of this new virus is to block it, making assisted breathing necessary in many cases. Mario Garattini, founder of the Mario Negri Pharmacological Research Institute, MIlano, said that “everything will depend on us, on our ability to avoid contagion. Let’s adhere to the dispositions. If everyone had adequate lifestyles and there was adequate prevention, perhaps we would be more resistant”.

This awareness, combined with the worldwide spread of the coronavirus and its devastating effects, should have frightened people enough to never leave their homes again, motivating them to respect the rules that have been spread and whose implementation is mandatory. Nevertheless, thousands of people have continued to travel throughout our country and the police have fined more than 2000 people for violating the restrictive rules of the government decree. What are the reasons for this behaviour? Superficiality, too positive approach to the problem, anxiety and a lack of habit of following the rules. Superficiality is a kind of magic thought, in which people think that the coronavirus is a problem that affects others, such as the elderly and sick, is a way to protect themselves from feelings of sadness in the short term. These people deny the existence of the problem and, therefore, engage in behaviour to escape from their reality. A second type of attitude is people who have an approach not mediated by reality and that is too positive, such as those who thought at the beginning of the spread that it was little more than a flu. They are individuals who live under the illusion of positive short-term solutions. A bit like those who start a diet or want to quit smoking and are confident that they will succeed just because they have made this decision, they are illusory forms of thinking so that at the first obstacles people give up following the new rules they have given themselves because it is too difficult. In the case of the coronavirus the problem manifests itself in the difficulty in maintaining the rules of physical distancing from other people and then they go out, take a walk with friends and take their children to play in the gardens. Similar for the effects but different in reasons is the approach of those who feel angst in staying at home. They perceive themselves as prisoners, feel violated in their freedom of movement and live this condition in a claustrophobic way. To overcome it the only solution in going outside. Finally, there are those who live reactively to the rules, have an attitude of eternal adolescents fighting against the norms of the adult world. They find it difficult to make the rules their own, which in this case are mandatory, and to develop a pluralistic concept of social coexistence, based not only on their rights but also on their duties towards the community.

These are some possible interpretations of behaviours that in a period of world crisis like the one we are experiencing and of upheaval of our daily life can explain the actions of the many who seem not to want to adapt to the new rules.

Physical activity and depression

New study shows Physical Activity dramatically reduces depression despite genetic high-risk. Evidence-based primary prevention for #depression must include Physical Activity background.


Karmel W. Choi et al. Physical activity offsets genetic risk for incident depression assessed via electronic health records in a biobank cohort study. Depression & Anxiety, 5 novembre 2019.



Physical activity is increasingly recognized as an important modifiable factor for depression. However, the extent to which individuals with stable risk factors for depression, such as high genetic vulnerability, can benefit from the protective effects of physical activity, remains unknown. Using a longitudinal biobank cohort integrating genomic data from 7,968 individuals of European ancestry with high‐dimensional electronic health records and lifestyle survey responses, we examined whether physical activity was prospectively associated with reduced risk for incident depression in the context of genetic vulnerability.


We identified individuals with incident episodes of depression, based on two or more diagnostic billing codes for a depressive disorder within 2 years following their lifestyle survey, and no such codes in the year prior. Polygenic risk scores were derived based on large‐scale genome‐wide association results for major depression. We tested main effects of physical activity and polygenic risk scores on incident depression, and effects of physical activity within stratified groups of polygenic risk.


Polygenic risk was associated with increased odds of incident depression, and physical activity showed a protective effect of similar but opposite magnitude, even after adjusting for BMI, employment status, educational attainment, and prior depression. Higher levels of physical activity were associated with reduced odds of incident depression across all levels of genetic vulnerability, even among individuals at highest polygenic risk.


Real‐world data from a large healthcare system suggest that individuals with high genetic vulnerability are more likely to avoid incident episodes of depression if they are physically active.

Tiger Woods is back from the hell

In 2009, on the occasion of the” The Invitational “tournament, Arnold Palmer, the greatest golfer of the sixties, had gone to meet Tiger Woods to congratulate without even waiting for the outcome of the decisive putt of almost 5 meters that he had to sink to win “I knew he would do it simply because with Tiger nothing different can happen,” he was at the top of his golf career.

And instead, his career takes an unexpected curve, taking the tunnel of scandals and physical troubles. On November 28, 2009, following a dispute with his wife Elin Nordegren, Woods slams his Cadillac against a fire hydrant and then crashes into a tree in Isleworth, in the suburbs of Orlando. He spends a few weeks in a clinic to treat sexual addiction, but the problems are just begun.

In April 2011, the Achilles tendon was severely damaged, while in March of the following year he began to suffer for back problems that led him to undergo four surgical operations, including a spinal fusion that would definitely solve his problems. But until two years ago Woods couldn’t even bend to tie his shoes. “I could barely walk. I couldn’t sit down, lay down. I could do practically nothing, “said Woods yesterday after winning the Augusta Masters.

Notah Begay III, a friend of Woods with alcohol problems, puts him in contact with Michael Phelps, the king of swimming who had managed to put behind him a serious form of depression and two arrests for driving while intoxicated. The two talk on the phone, and Phelps, who is also a golf fan, manages to find the key to revitalizing Woods, destroyed by physical pain and above all by the fear of not being able to return to the top anymore “.

Now a few days ago he won the first Major of the season, the Augusta Masters 11 years after his previous success.

Nike, which had recently announced that it would no longer invest in golf, following the victory of the Augusta Masters relaunched Woods with its advertising campaign that had already had testimonials like Serena Williams and Colin Kaepernick.

Risultati immagini per tiger woods "it's crazy

Mental disorders and football

We don’t know a lot about common mental disorders of professional footballers, there are few research and scientific information (Gouttebarge and Aoki, 2014).

A recent study published in Journal of Sport Science and Medicine by Gouttebarge, Back, Aoki  and Kerkhoffs (Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 2015, 14, 811-818) investigated symptoms related to distress, anxiety/depression or substance abuse/dependence,  typically referred as symptoms of common mental disorders (CMD).

The aims of this study were “to determine the prevalence of symptoms related to CMD (distress, anxiety/depression, sleeping disturbance, adverse alcohol behaviour, adverse nutrition behaviour) in professional footballers from five European countries and  to explore associations of the outcome measures under study with life events and career dissatisfaction among professional footballers.”

In this study were selected 540 professional footballers from five European countries (Finland, France, Norway, Spain and Sweden) and the method used was an electronic questionnaire.

The symptoms considered by authors were: distress, anxiety/depression, sleeping disturbance, adverse alcohol behavior, adverse nutrition behavior.  Stressors like Life events and Career dissatisfaction were also considerate by authors, The results says that “the highest prevalence rates of symptoms related to CMD were:

  • 18% (Sweden) for distress
  • 43% (Norway) for anxiety/depression
  • 33% (Spain) for sleeping disturbance
  • 17% (Finland) for adverse alcohol behavior
  • 74% (Norway) for adverse nutrition behavior

This study also emphasized that “in Finland, France and Sweden, both life events and career dissatisfaction were associated with distress, anxiety/depression, adverse alcohol behaviour, and adverse nutrition behavior.”

In conclusion, this study is very important and should be supported more with new studies in other countries considering the number of football players in the world involved. Other studies revealed that symptoms related to CMD were as prevalent as in other populations, ranging from 10% for distress to 19% for adverse alcohol use, and 26% for anxiety/depression (Gouttebarge et al., 2015).

(Review by Emiliano Bernardi  from Sports Science and Medicine, 2015, 14, 811-818, http://www.jssm.org)