Iowa star lineman Sean Welsh opens up about depression

Iowa All-Big Ten lineman Sean Welsh released a letter to the public Wednesday in which he opened up about his lengthy battle with depression.

One of the nation's top offensive lineman, Welsh said he first began to notice signs of the illness as a redshirt freshman in 2014. Welsh said he ate less, isolated himself from his teammates and spent ''more time asleep or in front of a TV than I did with people.''

''Football, the driving force for many years of my life, went from a source of purpose to a source of apathy. I started to feel a myriad of negative emotions: sadness, anxiety, dread and anger. They hit me like a bombardment from the moment I woke up to when I went back to bed,'' Welsh wrote. ''It was every dimension of terrible. And I kept wondering what was wrong.''

Though Welsh earned a starting nod in 2014, he said his condition worsened after that season. Welsh left the team during spring practice in 2015.

''It was like, Wow. Here's a guy that's really doing well, and now he's going to walk away?' That didn't add up,'' Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. ''You can't judge a book by its cover.''

Welsh said that therapy and medication helped him improve. He soon returned to the Hawkeyes and became an all-league pick, even though he called Iowa's successful 12-2 campaign two seasons ago ''one of the best and worst years of my life.''

Welsh said he decided to come public with his fight against the disease because it has both galvanized him and taught him perspective. Welsh added that he wants those who either believe they're depressed or know someone who might be to seek help.

''If you know of someone struggling with depression, be understanding and caring - you will make a world of difference,'' Welsh said.

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