Depression: Michael Phelps was there too, and he found the way out

Depression: Michael Phelps was there too, and he found the way out

Phelps, who has sought professional help, says his road to recovery hasn't been easy.

'I am extremely thankful that I did not take my life, ' he said.

"Really, after every Olympics I think I fell into a major state of depression", Phelps said, per CNN. He would later say, when asked about his darkest moments, "You do contemplate suicide".

Michael Phelps has revealed that he has battled severe anxiety and depression for much of his life.

Phelps won his first gold medal in 2004 at the Athens Olympic Games and it was that year the 15-year-old from Baltimore experienced his first "depression spell".

To be such a successful athlete and make the most of his talent and potential, Phelps had to be dedicated, intense, and unforgiving of himself.

He identified a pattern of emotion "that just wasn't right" at "a certain time during every year", around the beginning of October or November, he said.

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He said: "I didn't want to be in the sport anymore". That was the same year that Phelps was charged with driving under the influence, Axelrod reminded the spellbound audience. And why not? The 32-year-old retired after winning a total of 28 medals in the Olympics, which includes 23 gold medals.

"I said to myself so many times, 'Why didn't I do this 10 years ago?' But, I wasn't ready", he continued. "I didn't want to be alive anymore", he added in a lengthy on-stage interview with David Axelrod of CNN on Tuesday. Phelps said that after the quadrennial sporting event, he used to lock himself in the room for three-five days, didn't use to eat or drink and always thought of ending his life.

Other Olympic heroes have also battled with mental health problems, including Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe, who broke 22 world records and wrote in his 2012 autobiography that as well as considering suicide, he also planned ways and places to do it.

"I remember going to treatment my very first day, I was shaking, shaking because I was nervous about the change that was about to occur", the swimmer said. "I needed to figure out what was going on".

Phelps admitted he hit rock bottom after the 2012 London Olympics where he won four gold medals and two silver medals. I think people actually finally understand it is real. "I think this is the only way that we can change", he went on, encouraging others to continue speaking up.

When the Olympics were over, Phelps said he began to feel a big let-down, and it started to get more habitual.

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