There is growing recognition of an association between contact sports participation and increased risk of neurodegenerative disease, including Alzheimer’s disease and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.A range of mental health disorders and suicidality are proposed as diagnostic features of traumatic encephalopathy syndrome, the putative clinical syndrome associated with chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

7676 former professional soccer players with known high neurodegenerative mortality and their matched general population controls 23 028 participants, data on mental health outcomes were obtained by individual-level record linkage to national electronic records of hospital admissions and death certification.

Former professional soccer players showed lower risk of hospital admission for anxiety and stress related disorders, depression, drug use disorders, alcohol use disorders and bipolar and affective mood disorders.

The study concluded that among a population of former professional soccer players with known high neurodegenerative disease mortality, hospital admissions for common mental health disorders were lower than population controls, with no difference in suicide. The findings of this study provides support for the reappraisal of currently proposed diagnostic clinical criteria for traumatic encephalopathy syndrome, in particular the inclusion of mental health outcomes.

Reference: https://jnnp.bmj.com/content/early/2020/07/21/jnnp-2020-323315