07-11 | Rachael
Michael Phelps, who has won 23 gold medals in swimming in Olympics is a human like the rest of us and thus, is not immune to any mental problem. He has revealed that he too experienced serious spells of depression in his life that made him harbor suicidal thoughts.
He has also openly talked about his struggle with anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts, and how he overcame them with the support of his family and friends. However, he doesn’t want other athletes to go through the same plight and has urged the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) to take more effective steps to help athletes battling depression.
Lately, many current and former athletes are coming out in the open and discussing their mental health issues in order to remove stigma associated with suicidal impulses and depression. His fellow swimmers Missy Franklin and Allison Schmitt have also spoken about their battles with depression. Moreover, NBA stars DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Love also discussed about their mental health issues.
Phelps said that after the 2012 Olympics, he experienced major spells of depression. He became suicidal and wanted to get away from the sport. By 2014, after getting his second DUI, he confessed that he was running from something and wanted to die. At that point of time, he sought help and visited a treatment center in Arizona.
The toughest thing about the Olympics is the emotional void that an athlete feels afterwards. He is caught in the vicious circle of thoughts like – what is the life meant for, now that the Olympics are over?
Many athletes devote their life to Olympics or professional sports. Daily practice, intense preparation, and managing work-life balance to meet the sport’s requirement dominate an athlete’s life. But after the Olympics, an athlete can lose his/her focus and face a hard time coming back into routine. This can push a player toward post-Olympic depression, if he is unprepared for the transition.
Phelps added that athletes work hard to bring laurels for themselves and the country. However, when these athletes come back home, the authorities are worried about the next Olympics and forget about the mental health of these athletes.
He further added that the USOC has not done anything to help athletes during their phases of transition. In 2016, the USOC had launched Pivot, a program designed to help retired athletes for discovering and cultivating their passions. On the same line, the USOC should take initiative to help and guide athletes to overcome post-Olympic depression as well.
There is an urgent requirement to raise awareness of mental health problems and the need for seeking problem in order to lead a happy life. There is a need to help people accept the problem, open up and talk about things that trouble them. Providing proper guidance and therapy can completely change their life and they may be able to lead a happier and healthier life.
Stigma, discrimination and negative behavior are the biggest obstacles faced by athletes or sportsmen while seeking help for their depression. If you know someone struggling with the symptoms of depression, contact the Depression Treatment Helpline of Colorado to access the best depression treatment centers in Colorado that deliver evidence-based intervention plans. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-427-5668 or chat online to know more about depression treatments in Colorado.