Sports (Basel). 2023 Feb 23;11(3):52. doi: 10.3390/sports11030052.


INTRODUCTION: Although research suggests that exercise benefits mental health, psychiatric disorders have been acknowledged in the ultra-endurance-athlete population. At present, the mental-health consequences of high-volume training associated with ultra-endurance sports are not well understood.

METHODS: We conducted a narrative review summarizing primary observations about mental disorders per ICD-11 criteria in ultra-endurance athletes using a keyword search in Scopus and PubMed.

RESULTS: We identified 25 papers discussing ICD-11-classified psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and schizophrenia in ultra-endurance athletes.

DISCUSSION: Although evidence is limited, available papers indicate that there is a sizable incidence of mental-health issues and composite psychopathological vulnerabilities in this community. We contend that ultra-endurance athletes may represent a different, though similar, demographic than elite and/or professional athletes, as they often engage in high-volume training with similarly high motivation. This can have regulatory implications, which we also highlight.

CONCLUSION: Mental illness in ultra-endurance athletes is an underrepresented topic in sports medicine, though psychiatric disorders may be especially prevalent in this population. Further inquiry is necessary to inform athletes and healthcare practitioners about the possible mental-health implications associated with participation in ultra-endurance sports.

PMID:36976938 | DOI:10.3390/sports11030052