Anderson opens up about her depression

MMA news

A UFC contender opened up about her mental health, in detail, for the first time Monday.

Megan Anderson discussed her 2010 suicide attempt and subsequent depression in an interview on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show. The morning of her fight with Felicia Spencer at UFC Rochester in May, Anderson said she had a panic attack and nearly withdrew from the bout. On Monday, Anderson, a UFC women’s featherweight contender, announced that her next fight would be against Norma Dumont at UFC Norfolk on Feb. 29. She said she will have T-shirts made leading up to that bout and all proceeds from sales will go to the nonprofit Mental Health America. The shirts will be available for purchase at

“I think there’s such a stigma around mental health, particularly as fighters, we are seen as invincible,” Anderson said. “We get in the cage and we fight and we’re supposed to be like superhero people.

“I think the more fighters that come out and talk about it, I feel like we really have a good voice to show people that it is OK to not be OK. It’s OK to have these feelings or to feel this way. Just remember you aren’t the only one. And there is always somebody that will be there for you. It is never worst-case scenario. It is never as bad as you think it is.”

Anderson said she was in the Army in her home country of Australia in early 2010 when she attempted suicide. She was in the hospital for about a week. Anderson said things seemed desperate for her at the time. She was attempting to get out of the military, but the process — which took months — was daunting.

“I was at a point where I was just so scared to do anything, so mentally broken I didn’t know what else I could do,” Anderson said. “That was hard for my family, obviously. After that, we made the decision [the Army] wasn’t for me.”

Anderson, 29, found MMA about two years later and it has been helpful, she said. But it’s not a cure, she warned. Anderson said her father was an alcoholic growing up. Although he has been sober for six years and she is proud of him, she said that was not a good situation when she was a child. Anderson, who now lives and trains in Missouri, said she currently sees a psychologist.

“You don’t ever fully recover,” Anderson said. “You just learn how to manage those triggers or feelings or whatever each person has. You learn ways to do that.”

Anderson has previously spoken to ESPN about anxiety leading into her fight with Spencer in May. During training camp, Anderson said she had “crippling anxiety” whenever she thought about fighting. She said coach James Krause sat her down before that bout and gave her the choice to not compete. Anderson still did. Spencer ended up winning by first-round submission.

“It just got to a point where I didn’t want to fight anymore,” Anderson told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto in October. “I didn’t know if I wanted to fight ever again.”

After the Spencer loss, Anderson took two months off from training and sought help from a mental-health coach. She said her coaches would not let her fight again until she was absolutely ready. Anderson returned to beat Zarah Fairn dos Santos by first-round submission at UFC 243 in October in Australia.

Anderson (10-4) said she is in a good place, though it remains difficult. A win over Dumont would allow her to climb the rankings and get closer to a potential title fight with featherweight champion Amanda Nunes.

“I really feel confident within the next year or two I’m gonna be where I want to be,” Anderson said. “I’m really excited about that.”

Along with her goal to be UFC champion, Anderson said she also wants to be an advocate for mental health awareness.

“It’s kind of scary,” Anderson said. “I don’t want people to think differently of me or anything like that. I’m a human like everybody else. I feel like I have a really good platform to help other people that might not necessarily be able to have this platform. There are people of all walks of life that go through all different types of things. It’s OK. If I can work through it, you’re not alone. You can do it, too. I have faith in those people and I have faith in myself and anybody else. I think anyone who speaks out about mental health, I have such respect for. There’s such a stigma around it and it needs to go.”

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