San Francisco Giants baseball player Aubrey Huff has been put on the 15-day disabled list because of anxiety, according to the team's manager, Bruce Bochy, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Huff abruptly left the team Monday, when he texted Bochy saying he "had to attend to an urgent family matter," according to CSN Bay Area. The 35-year-old first baseman and outfielder returned home to Tampa, Fla.
"Obviously, we're putting Huff on the DL. The reason is, he had an episode of anxiety," Bochy told the San Francisco Chronicle. "He's gotten some treatment and he'll continue to get treatment.
"He's going to meet us in San Francisco when we get back, but we can't keep going short," he said, noting the promotion of infielder Joaquin Arias to replace Huff.
Huff has had his share of troubles. He is currently going through a divorce and his father was murdered when he was 7. His career has been floundering this year. And on Saturday, while playing second base for the first time, Huff did not cover second base on what could have been a key double play. Some described the play as "embarrassing."
Any and all of these events could lead to anxiety and panic attacks for certain individuals, experts said.
"A very stressful life event can trigger a post-traumatic stress reaction, which could, in persons at high risk due, e.g., to adverse childhood conditions [such as Huff's father's murder], progress to post-traumatic stress disorder," Dr. Redford Williams, director of the Behavioral Medicine Treatment Center at Duke University, wrote in an email.
It is estimated that 40 million American adults aged 18 years and older in a given year will be affected by an anxiety disorder. That equals about one in every eight adults, said Dr. Simon Rego, director of psychology training at Montefiore Medical Center.
"If left untreated, anxiety disorders can have a severe, negative impact on a person's social, work, and even home life," said Rego, who did not treat Huff. "They can make people more vulnerable to abusing alcohol and drugs and experiencing depression and, in the long-term, can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.""
In fact, anxiety disorders are one of the most costly classes of illness, said Rego. Research has shown that lost productivity at work because of anxiety costs about $4.1 billion per year in the U.S.
Huff's story illustrates just how serious the disorder can affect high-functioning individuals, but it also shows that the condition is treatable, experts said.
The good news, experts said, is that anxiety disorders are among the most studied mental health disorders, and many effective treatments, including cognitive behavioral therapy and medications, are available.
"Without interviewing Mr. Huff, it is impossible to know the precise nature of his anxiety," said Dr. Una McCann, director of the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at Johns Hopkins Medical Institute. "However, I'm impressed that he was so open about the diagnosis, since psychiatric illnesses continue to be stigmatized."
"By being forthright about his problem, he did a real service for all those other patients with anxiety disorders who feel that they need to hide their diagnoses or are embarrassed to speak about them," said McCann.