Publication Date

Summer 2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Ted M. Butryn


Collegiate Athlete, Depression, Existential Phenomenology, Experience, Sport Psychology

Subject Areas

Kinesiology; Psychology, General


Collegiate athletes may be at an increased risk of depression due to the pressure and stress they face. This risk is of great concern because their health, safety, and sport performance may all be affected. In addition, collegiate athletes are more likely to turn to maladaptive coping behaviors and less likely to seek help for mental health struggles than other populations. It has been suggested that a greater understanding of personal experiences would be helpful in increasing awareness and improving treatment. Therefore, the purpose of the current study was to explore the lived experience of depression in female collegiate athletes. In-depth, unstructured interviews were conducted with 10 current and former female collegiate athletes. The interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using phenomenological research methods. Thematic analysis revealed one ground (the role of sport) and four general categories (weariness, self-doubt, out of control, and nowhere to go). Direct quotes from participants are used to illustrate these categories, and connections to relevant research are made when appropriate. Practical implications and recommendations are made for athletes, coaches, and families. Suggestions are given for future research studies. It is hoped that results from this study will contribute to increased awareness and sensitivity to the experiences of depression among female college athletes.