New Orleans Saints running back Ricky Williams has social anxiety disorder.
Williams said he met with a psychiatrist about two months ago and was diagnosed as depressed. He said he began taking medication about a week ago.
"As we talked more, we got into the fact that I had a problem in social situations," Williams told the Times-Picayune of New Orleans Wednesday night. "All it is, I'm extremely shy. I don't like to call it anything else."
Hearing people make negative comments about him increased his anxiety level, Williams said. Williams recently has been the subject of trade rumours and criticism for skipping voluntary workouts that were attended by every other Saints player under contract.
But Williams, 23, said he has felt more comfortable since returning from San Diego for the team's mini-camp last month and believes he can be happy in New Orleans.
"I feel fine when I'm in San Diego," Williams said. "It's just when I come here, it's different. I'm much happier here now."
Social anxiety disorders are highly treatable and the medication should not affect Williams' football career, said Dr. Howard Osofsky, chairman of psychiatry at LSU's Health Sciences Center.
"He may find himself to be more effective in his overall performance and concentration," Osofsky said.
Williams said he has not discussed his condition with the team. He said he decided to disclose his condition through the media in part so people would understand him better.
Such behaviour as wearing a helmet during interviews his rookie year, curling up in a fetal position inside his locker and keeping his distance from teammates led to misperceptions, Williams said.
"I'm sure I've offended a lot of people because I'm so shy," Williams said.
Williams also said he decided to speak out because it might help others deal with similar problems.
"I wanted to get it out there," he said. "I just don't want a spectacle to be made of it."