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Saturday, December 15, 2012
Skier Lindsey Vonn reveals battle with depression

By espnW

Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn has revealed that she has been battling depression for years. She told People magazine she takes an antidepressant to manage her symptoms.

"Everything about my life seemed so perfect to people. But I struggle like everyone else," Vonn told the magazine.

Vonn said she hit a low point in 2008.

"I couldn't get out of bed anymore. I felt hopeless, empty, like a zombie," she told People.

Vonn, who filed for divorce late last year from husband Thomas Vonn, said she is in a better place now.

"All the parts of my life are finally in sync," she told the magazine. "I accept who I am, and I'm moving forward."

Joel Fish, sports psychologist and director of the Center for Sport Psychology in Philadelphia, said it's important to note that Vonn has excelled at the highest level of her sport in the years since she first sought help for depression. Vonn won her 57th World Cup title Dec. 8 in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

"Professional athletes have to figure out ways to deal with their private lives and perform publicly,'' he said.

Fish said a perception that athletes are somehow immune to depression is false.

"The percentage of athletes who have depression is similar to the percentage in the general population," he said. "There's an assumption that because they're bigger and stronger, they're also bigger and stronger emotionally, and that isn't the case. The same percentage suffer from anxiety, depression and other life adjustment issues.

"So when someone like Lindsey Vonn comes out in public like this, it's very important and helpful because it brings attention to the fact that athletes are not machines or robots, they're flesh and blood just like us. And because she's a celebrity, it tends to reach more people than if the surgeon general or a teacher or a sports psychologist says this."

espnW's Bonnie D. Ford contributed to this story.