Prevalence of depression and anxiety symptoms among female football players and non-players


  • Katarina Puš ZRS Koper
  • Tanja Kajtna University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Sport, Slovenia



depression, anxiety, prevalence, female football players, adolescence


Purpose: Depression and anxiety are mental illnesses which affect many people worldwide. The purpose of this study is to determine the prevalence of depression and anxiety symptoms among Slovenian female football players and non-players.

Methods: The sample consisted of Slovenian female football players playing in the Slovenian 1st female football league or youth league (n = 78) and non-player peers (n = 120) with an average age of the total sample 22±4 years. The participants filled out a questionnaire including some general questions (age, physical activity levels, participation in competitive sports), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II), Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI), and Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS-21).

Results: The most commonly observed were normal and mild levels of depression and anxiety. According to the results of depression in BDI-II, 43.6% of athletes experienced moderate to severe depression compared to 15.8% of peers (p = 0.001). Results from DASS-21 show that 71.8% of athletes experience normal to mild symptoms of depression and 56.4% experience the same levels of anxiety. Similarly, 75% of peers experience normal to mild depressive symptoms and 56.7% reported normal to mild symptoms of anxiety. No statistical differences were found in these categories.

Conclusion: We have gained insight into the current prevalence of depression and anxiety among female football players and their peers but more research needs to be done.


Alaie, I., Philipson, A., Ssegonja, R., Hagberg, L., Feldman, I., Sampaio, F., … Jonsson, U. (2019). Uppsala Longitudinal Adolescent Depression Study (ULADS). BMJ Open, 9(3), 1–14.

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA.

Barlow, D. H. (2000). Unravelling the mysteries of anxiety and its disorders from the perspective of emotion theory. American Psychologist, (November), 183–198.

Beable, A. S., Fulcher, M., & Lee, A. C. (2017). SHARP − Sports mental Health Awareness Research Project: Prevalence and Risk Factors of Depressive Symptoms and Life Stress in Elite Athletes. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.

Bernaras, E., Jaureguizar, J., & Garaigordobil, M. (2019). Child and adolescent depression: A review of theories, evaluation instruments, prevention programs, and treatments. Frontiers in Psychology, 10(MAR).

Bromet, E., Andrade, L. H., Hwang, I., Sampson, N. A., Alonso, J., de Girolamo, G., … Kessler, R. C. (2011). Cross-national epidemiology of DSM-IV major depressive episode. BMC Medicine, 9.

Dobnik Renko, B. (2020). Anxiety disorders in children and adolescents. Psiholoska Obzorja, 29, 1–8.

Essau, C. A. (2003). Comorbidity of anxiety disorders in adolescents. Depression and Anxiety, 18(1), 1–6.

Essau, C. A., Lewinsohn, P. M., Olaya, B., & Seeley, J. R. (2014). Anxiety disorders in adolescents and psychosocial outcomes at age 30. Journal of Affective Disorders, 163, 125–132.

Freidl, E. K., Stroeh, O. M., Elkins, R. M., Steinberg, E., Albano, A. M., & Rynn, M. (2017). Assessment and Treatment of Anxiety among Children and Adolescents. FOCUS, 15(2), 144–156.

Gorczynski, P. F., Coyle, M., & Gibson, K. (2017). Depressive symptoms in high-performance athletes and non-athletes: A comparative meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine, Vol. 51, pp. 1348–1354. BMJ Publishing Group.

Gutiérrez-Rojas, L., Porras-Segovia, A., Dunne, H., Andrade-González, N., & Cervilla, J. A. (2020). Prevalence and correlates of major depressive disorder: a systematic review. Braz J Psychiatry, 657–672.

Junge, A., & Feddermann-Demont, N. (2016). Prevalence of depression and anxiety in top-level male and female football players. BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, 2(1).

Junge, A., & Prinz, B. (2018). Depression and anxiety symptoms in 17 teams of female football players including 10 German First League teams. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 53(8), 471-477.

Kandola, A., Vancampfort, D., Herring, M., Rebar, A., Hallgren, M., Firth, J., & Stubbs, B. (2018). Moving to beat anxiety: Epidemiology and therapeutic issues with physical activity for anxiety. Current Psychiatry Reports, 20(8).

Konec Juričič, N., Roškar, S., & Jelenko Roth, P. (2016). Prepoznavanje in obravnava depresije in samomorilnosti pri pacientih v ambulanti družinskega zdravnika: priročnik za strokovnjake na primarni zdravstveni ravni [Recognition and Treatment of Depression and Suicide Tendencies in Patients at the General Practice: a Handbook for Professionals at the Primary Care Level]. Ljubljana: Nacionalni inštitut za javno zdravje.

Lebrun, F., MacNamara, À., Rodgers, S., & Collins, D. (2018). Learning from Elite Athletes’ experience of depression. Frontiers in Psychology, 9(OCT).

Lewinsohn, P. M., Rohde, P., & Seeley, J. R. (1998). Major depressive disorder in older adolescents: Prevalence, risk factors, and clinical implications. Clinical Psychology Review, 18(7), 765–794.

Lovibond, P. F., & Lovibond, S. H. (1995). The structure of negative emotional states: comparison of the depression anxiety stress scales (dass) with the beck depression and anxiety inventories. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 33(3), 335-343.

Newman, H. J. H., Howells, K. L., & Fletcher, D. (2016). The Dark Side of Top Level Sport: An Autobiographic Study of Depressive Experiences in Elite Sport Performers.

Nixdorf, I., Beckmann, J., Nixdorf, R., & Nicholls, A. R. (2020). Psychological Predictors for Depression and Burnout among German Junior Elite Athletes. 11(April), 1–13.

Rice, S. M., Gwyther, K., Santesteban-Echarri, O., Baron, D., Gorczynski, P., Gouttebarge, V., ... Purcell, R. (2019). Determinants of anxiety in elite athletes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 53(11), 722–730.

Rocha, V. V. S. in Osório, F. de L. (2018). Associations between competitive anxiety, athlete characteristics and sport context: Evidence from a systematic review and meta-analysis. Revista de Psiquiatria Clinica, 45(3), 67–74.

Ustun, G. (2021). Determining depression and related factors in a society affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 67(1), 54–63.

Wolanin, A., Gross, M., & Hong, E. (2015). Depression in athletes : Prevalence and risk factors. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 14(1), 56-60.

Woodward, L. J., & Fergusson, D. M. (2001). Life-course outcomes of young people with anxiety disorders in adolescence. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 40(9), 1086–1093.

World Health Organization. (2021). Depression. Retrieved from




How to Cite

Puš, K., & Kajtna, T. (2022). Prevalence of depression and anxiety symptoms among female football players and non-players. Annales Kinesiologiae, 12(1), 15–27.