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What is Dontrelle Willis' Experience With Social Anxiety Disorder?

Dontrelle Willis and Social Anxiety Disorder


Dontrelle Willis was placed on the disabled list for social anxiety disorder.

Dontrelle Willis

Photo: Al Messerschmidt / Getty Images


Professional Baseball Player (Pitcher)

Experience with SAD:

Dontrelle Willis, pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, was placed on the disabled list in 2009 due to social anxiety disorder (SAD). There was some controversy over Willis' diagnosis, which was rendered in the apparent absence of symptoms (at least any that Willis could acknowledge) and based on the result of a blood test. Some speculated that placing Willis on the disabled list was in the best interest of the Tigers organization rather than a result of an actual disorder suffered by the pitcher.


To date there has been no disclosure about what type of treatment Willis received other than talking with coaches, doctors, and instructors.


Dontrelle Wayne Willis (nicknamed "D-Train") was born on January 12, 1982 in Oakland California. Willis was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 2000, traded to the Florida Marlins in 2002, and named National League Rookie of the Year in 2003. In 2005, Willis posted an earned run average (ERA) of 2.63 and led the major leagues with 22 wins. In 2007, Willis was traded to the Detroit tigers where he signed a 3-year, 29 million dollar contract. In March 2009, Willis was placed on the disabled list for an anxiety disorder on the basis of blood test results. It was later confirmed that Willis was suffering from SAD.

Thoughts About SAD:

"Even when I went on the DL, I felt fine. You can ask anybody in here. I'm not a depressed guy. Maybe I'm hard on myself, but I wouldn't have gotten here if I wasn't. But there's a fine line to knowing what you can control and what you can't control. As far as how I feel, I don't have a condition. My condition is me going out there and playing baseball and having fun. If God doesn't want me to do it, then I'll find something else to do."

"Everybody says they want to have fun, but when you struggle, it's not as fun as when you're playing well, obviously. Now my mindset is just simplified, going out there and really just thinking about myself and not really caring about anybody else as far as what they think. I'm not going out there and, excuse me, pitching with a gun to my head instead of just going out there and having fun. You make a pitch, and if you don't [execute] it, go on to the next one."


Beck J. Willis takes a hard look at his situation. MLB Blogs. Accessed May 8, 2009, 2009.

Eagle E. Tigers place Willis, Zumaya on DL. MLB. Accessed May 8, 2009.

Jock Bio. Dontrelle Willis. Accessed May 8, 2009.

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