Peter Crouch, 38, has earned his place in the football hall of fame, with career highlights including being one of 28 players to have scored 100 or more Premier League goals, and holding the record for the most headed goals in Premier League history. He became known for his upbeat and playful personality on the pitch, exemplified by his famous robotic dancing goal celebration. The World Cup star may have brought positivity and morale to the game, but he has been through some dark chapters in his life too.
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As part of a BBC one documentary for Mental Health Awareness Week earlier in the year, the England striker spoke candidly about his battle with mental health issues, which was a “big problem growing up”.
He said: “When I first broke into the first team at QPR people judged me on my appearance,” said Crouch. “I’m the same size, and probably even skinnier than I am now.
“Although I make light of those things now, no teenager wants to go through these things.
“I had these hang-ups and I always used to cry. I used to cry at night when I was a kid of 14/15, [saying] ‘dad, why am I not the same as everyone else?’
His debut for England back in 2005 proved to be a particularly unpleasant experience, where he was met with booing when he came on the pitch.
He said: “It was horrible, and I thought of my mum as I was coming on thinking she’s going to be crying her eyes out. Thankfully I did all right.
He continued: “But when I was playing for England, because I was different, I felt I had to score at every single game and thankfully I did well.
“I thought that because of the way I look there was definitely a stigma against me and I was never Plan A, I was always Plan B.”
As the NHS explains, difficult events and experiences can cause low spirits or depression, and underlying triggers can be wide-ranging, such as relationship problems, bereavement, sleep problems, stress at work, bullying, chronic illness or pain.
A general low mood, which includes symptoms such as sadness and feeling anxious, generally improves after a few days or weeks, but depression on the other hand, can last for two weeks more and lead to increasing sense of hopelessness, explains the health body.
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Body image issues, which can arise as a result of difficult events and experiences, can lead to body dysmorphic disorder.
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), or body dysmorphia, is a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in their appearance.
As the health body points out, having BDD does not mean you are vain or self-obsessed, and it can be very upsetting and have a big impact on your life.
How to treat mental health issues
Mental health issues are usually treated with a combination of lifestyle changes and medications.
As the NHS explained: “Life changes, such as getting a regular good night’s sleep, keeping to a healthy diet, reducing your alcohol intake and getting regular exercise, can help you feel more in control and more able to cope.”
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Some people may find meditation and breathing exercises can help people develop new ways of approaching problems, notes the health body.
Talking therapies for mental and emotional problems like stress, anxiety and depression may also prove an effective treatment.
According to the NHS, there are lots of different types of talking therapy, but they all involve working with a trained therapist, and this may be one-to-one, in a group, over the phone, with your family, or with your partner.
In addition, a person’s GP may also recommend a course of antidepressants, which are thought to work by increasing levels of chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters, explains the NHS.
The health site explained: “Certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and noradrenaline, are linked to mood and emotion.”
Antidepressants are not usually recommended for mild depression, unless other treatments like therapy haven’t helped, but expert opinion supports antidepressants to treat depression.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists estimates that 50 to 65 percent of people treated with an antidepressant for depression will see an improvement, compared to 25 to 30 percent of those taking a placebo.
If you start to feel like your life isn’t worth living or you want to harm yourself, get help straight away, advises the NHS.
In addition to seeing your GP or calling NHS 111, you can also call Samaritans on 116 123 for 24-hour confidential, non-judgemental emotional support, explains the health site.
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