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Top 20 Athletes Who Have Battled Depression

"Millionaire sports person suffering from depression;" it is an all too common headline and one which still seems to shock many, as if fame and fortune should somehow immune individuals from mental illness and sadness. The truth is, sportspeople are actually one of the most likely groups in society to fall into depression, with some reports suggesting that it could be as many as one in four athletes that suffer from the condition at some stage in their life.

It is most common for an athlete to suffer depression after retirement. The thrill and exhilaration of playing the game you love in front of thousands can be difficult to replace in life, and some fall down the path of drugs, alcohol and gambling in an attempt to feel the same level of excitement; which is of course a dangerous cocktail which often leads to struggles with conditions such as depression.

With such a high number of athletes having problems with depression, there was no shortage of candidates to make this list. As such, I have selected high-profile athletes, most of whom were at or near the very top of their profession. Thankfully, a number of these athletes got over their depression, while others still labor with the condition and some, sadly, took their own life. Here are the top 20 athletes who have battled depression:

20 Shawn Osborne

via officialfan.proboards.com

19 Ricky Williams

via nbcmiami.com

18 Freddie Flintoff

via manchestereveningnews.co.uk

17 Terry Bradshaw

via parade.com

16 Stan Collymore

via liverpoolecho.co.uk

15 Greg Stiemsma

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

14 Frank Bruno

via pinterest.com

13 Darryl Strawberry

via nydailynews.com

12 Larry Sanders

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

11 Ricky Hatton

via telegraph.co.uk

10 Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson

via ksl.com

9 Oscar De La Hoya

via worldboxingnews.co.uk

8 Paul Gascoigne

Billy Stickland /Allsport

7 Skull Murphy

via flickr.com

6 Johnny Tapia

via zimbio.com

5 Gary Speed

via manchestereveningews.co.uk

4 Andre Waters

via nydailynews.com

3 Rick Rypien

via thestar.com

2 Robert Enke

via info-stars.com

1 The Von Erich Family

via dallasnews.com

Professional wrestler Fritz Von Erich competed throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s, before retiring from wrestling in 1983. He won the AWA World title in 1963, appearing as Nazi villain in his early wrestling career. Fritz had six children, five of whom died before him, three committing suicide. His firstborn, Jack, died at the age of 6 as a result of accidental electrocution. The other five children all went into professional wrestling. David Von Erich died of acute enteritis in Tokyo at the age of 25. Of the other four, three committed suicide and one is still alive today.

Mike Von Erich had an illustrious wrestling career, and is a member of the WWE Hall of Fame. Mike made his debut at the age of 20 and had a fast and furious career before committing suicide at the age of 23. He developed toxic shock syndrome and brain damage, leading to his drug and alcohol abuse and eventual depression; he overdosed on alcohol and sleeping pills in 1987.

Kerry Von Erich faced similar troubles; after the amputation on his foot he became addicted to pain killers, and in turn more serious drugs. Kerry believed his four deceased brothers were calling out to him, and shot himself in the heart.

The last of the brothers to die, Chris Von Erich, grew depressed over the deaths of his brothers. In 1991, a year after his WWE debut, aged 21, he shot himself in the head.

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Top 20 Athletes Who Have Battled Depression