An Honest Talk About Depression, Anxiety, Stress, and Mental Health in Gymnastics With Luke Carson

Mental health issues in gymnastics like depression, anxiety, chronic stress, and others are some of the most important, yet least discussed, topics in our sport.

Between the perfectionism, unhealthy comparisons, constant critiquing that occurs in daily training or at meets (it’s literally called ‘getting judged), so many gymnasts, coaches, parents, and other professionals suffer in silence.

If left unchecked it can have devastating effects. Too often stigma, fear of social gossip, or not having the proper tools/resources to discuss these issues cause issues to snowball over time.

As someone who has struggled with depression and anxiety as an athlete, coach, and in my personal life, I feel it’s of massive importance to have more open and supportive conversations on the topic.

This year of the pandemic has amplified these issues further, as we see many people struggling with these mental health issues.

I can promise you, every person on earth and everyone in gymnastics at some point has some version of these issues.

And due to this, we all need to make sure we are taking care of ourselves and others with discussion and strategies to help.

Today on the podcast I’m honored to have Luke Carson, coach of Rhys McClenaghan, to do exactly this.

While we are no psychologists or psychiatrists, and we strongly suggest that people seek the help of these professionals, we wanted to have an honest chat about this.

Seeing a therapist, and also reading through some very helpful books, I have made a lot of progress.

There are many things that helped me, but learning to recognize and challenge distorted thoughts was among the most helpful (“I’ll never get this skill”, “I always screw this up”, “It’s hopeless, things will never get better”, etc)

By being able to see these distorted thoughts for what they are, label them, and challenging them with rational, logical thoughts, is massively important to combat depression and anxiety.

My best recommendation is work by Dr. David Burns MD from Standford, especially his new book “Feeling Great” (link here)


If you are struggling with mental health, PLEASE reach out to someone. If you are in the US and need someone, check out here – https://www.mentalhealth.gov/get-help/immediate-help

We discuss

  • Why issues like depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues are wrongly viewed as weaknesses by most people
  • Why Luke and I feel these problems are so rampant in gymnastics
  • How Luke helps build an environment where athletes feel safe to talk about mental health
  • Our experiences with depression and anxiety in gymnastics
  • The tools that we felt were most helpful to feel better and change our thoughts/moods
  • The influences of social media, comparison, and peers on mental health

and much, much more.

You can find it here on iTunes, Spotify, or Stitcher.

An Honest Talk About Depression, Anxiety, Stress, and Mental Health in Gymnastics With Luke Carson

Please do me a huge favor and share this one with your gymnastics community!

– Dave