Recently famous lady golfer Lindsey Wright beat depression and re-entered the world of golf. She told of chronic insomnia and racing thoughts, only quietened by “two bottles of red wine”. Wright is a classic example of the environment influencing depression; she spoke of feeling lonely, isolated, and desperate. Eventually, a friend persuaded her to obtain a diagnosis, and she took a break from everyday activities, including professional golf, which had become a huge pressure source on her.
Taking an admin role for a few months enabled her to refresh her spirits and return better than ever, winning her fourth pro tournament a month after returning to golf.
Losing interest in activities you love is a classic depressive symptom and part of a destructive cycle; depression reduces your energy and passion, which impacts your game, which leads the depressive to self-medicate, further reducing their capacity to recover. As well as psychological effects, depression can have physical effects on the sufferer. Insomnia in itself is debilitating. If you self-medicate as Wright did, you risk depressing your mood further and draining both vitamins and serotonin from your system.
Depression and Golf
It can be easy when in the grip of an episode to see things in lurid colors; one mistake at work and you’re clearly going to be fired, one missed bill payment and your credit rating is wrecked forever, one pound extra gained and you might as well purchase a bulk order of muumuus. But golf in itself can help you beat depression.
The beautiful, lush landscapes comprising the average golf course, and the necessary quiet, can help soothe frayed nerves, especially if your day consists of a busy commute, a working day with telephones and radio. An evening ‘relaxing’ in a terrace situated on a noisy street (whether traffic or students are the culprits).
The process of hitting a golf ball is highly meditative and requires concentrated thought, focus, and very much ‘being present’. The gentle exercise of walking and carrying your clubs means players refrain from over-exerting themselves – pacing yourself is vital to recovery, despite the temptation toward ‘all or nothing’ thinking that characterizes a depressed mood.
It can also be a way to build self-esteem, mainly if you participate in charity events – or even organize one. For example, former swimmer Nicole Smith has pursued golf in order to get fresh air and exercise and is currently raising money for the Black Dog Institute.