For Michael Phelps, depression is both a problem that many athletes face and also a personal challenge. Despite being the world's most decorated swimmer and the Olympian with the most medals of all time, with 28 Olympic medals (23 gold), he has faced depression over and over.
In 2004 Phelps got his first DUI (arrest for Driving Under the Influence); in 2008 Phelps is photographed taking bong hit; and in 2014 Phelps received a second DUI. The days following his second DUI were the lowest point in his life. Phelps explained that he was on the brink of ending his life in those days between his arrest and court date. "I'm somebody who's gone through at least three or four major depression spells after [Olympic] Games that, you know, I've put my life in danger," he recounted.
He has asked the United States Olympic Committee ( USOC) to help athletes who suffer depression, but complains: "The USOC in my opinion hasn't done anything to help us transition after an Olympics."
Other top athletes, including fellow swimmers Allison Schmitt and Missy Franklin have both spoken about their struggles.
Depression is a debilitating mental condition of overwhelming sadness and disinterest in activity. The victim may feel hopeless, tearfulness, lack of energy to engage in even the smallest tasks, worthlessness, anxiety, anger, restlessness, and have trouble focusing and may even have frequent thoughts of suicide.
Peter (name changed to protect the client), an emergency room doctor, is a patient of Dr. Scott Terry, clinical psychologist is. Peter told his story:
"Prior to learning Transcendental Meditation (TM), I had struggled with depression off and on for several years. Sleep would frequently be difficult. That led to low energy level and lack of focus at work and at home. I took medication and saw a therapist, but during these bouts of depression I would still sometimes feel hopelessness and little desire to get up in the morning and go to work. At these times, I would feel especially tired. I thought I was doing well."
If one has been in a traumatic event, depression often accompanies Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It can also be understood as one of the symptoms of PTSD.
Without support, each episode of depression may be a painful, prolonged and possibly life-threatening time.
An estimated 16.2 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode (2 weeks or longer). This number represented 6.7% of all U.S. adults.).
People from all walks of life struggle with depression. Actor Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson explained: "Struggle and pain is real," he said of that dark time. "I was devastated and depressed.
"I reached a point where I didn't want to do a thing or go anywhere," he added. "I was crying constantly."
The standard treatments are psychotherapy and psychopharmacology.
According to the National Network of Depression Centers (www.nndc.org/facts ) Depression costs the U.S. $210 billion per year and is the leading cause of disability In the US among citizens 15-44. They also state that 2/3 of people with depression either do not seek help nor receive adequate help and that only 41% of adults in the US with mental health conditions receive help.
Psychopharmacology is commonly used, but may produce unwanted side effects. It is often ineffective in not only solving one's original depression or in preventing the next depression. And with extended long-term use, the side effects may have devastating health effects.