For days and even weeks at a time, Jaden Gault could barely get out of bed. The day-to-day life ahead of him just didn’t seem worth it.

That’s the kind of grip depression and anxiety can exert on a person — regardless of age, or talent, or whether the outside world might assume he has everything going for him.

Gault is a 6-foot-7, 300-pound football star with a bright future at the University of Wisconsin. He led Monona Grove to a state title last fall, earned his high school diploma a semester early, competed in the prestigious U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January and then enrolled at UW as the Badgers’ most highly ranked recruit from the Class of 2014.

But during his first six weeks as a college student, a chain of difficult events, along with all of the changes and new pressures in his life, led Gault to become severely depressed — to the point that he knew he needed help.

So Gault took a leave of absence from the UW football program, missing spring practice, and is taking steps to fight the condition. He doesn’t plan to return to football until at least January.

“I was almost like a zombie,” Gault said in a telephone interview Friday. “I was getting kind of hopeless. I didn’t feel like doing anything or being there at all. I just wanted to check out.

“I wanted to just be done with life. Being in that kind of stage, you really have no other options in your head at that time.”

Gault was hospitalized as a precaution after having suicidal thoughts in early February, and again during the first week of March. At that point, he realized he needed to leave the UW football team temporarily and miss spring practice.

Gault is enrolled in classes for the fall semester but plans to sit out the football season as a redshirt. He is targeting a return to the team in January, if his condition improves.

UW declined to issue a statement on Gault’s situation, but a sports information official did say Gault has the full support of the program and added that his roster status has not changed.

“(The coaching staff) can’t wait to get Jaden back when he wants to be there,” Matt Gault, Jaden’s father, said. “That’s what they said. It’s all on Jaden’s time frame.