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“Felt Like the Weakest”: Father of Three, Michael Phelps, Once Narrated His Battle With the Health Issue That 56% of American Adults Do Not Receive Treatment For

Published 10/29/2022, 8:45 PM EDT

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Michael Phelps is a synonym for greatness. Exhibiting sheer brilliance in the pool, the swimmer earned more accolades than any other Olympic athlete in the history of the mega-quadrennial games. However, while he was the most dominant and remains the most decorated swimmer of all time, his real struggle was outside the pool.

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Phelps has never been a stranger to mental health issues. But while he was diagnosed with ADHD at six, things took a turn for the worse in his career as he began his battle with depression.


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A long struggle with mental health issues

Teaming up with Talkspace in 2018, Phelps revealed how he struggled a lot with anxiety and depression. Michael recalled how he was living his childhood dream of becoming a decorated Olympic athlete, with multiple gold medals to his name. But in 2014, Phelps hit rock bottom.

Micheal said, “I hadn’t left my room for 5 days. I questioned whether I wanted to be alive anymore. I realized I am the strongest person I know, but I felt like the weakest.”


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However, Michael knew that to beat anxiety and depression, he needed to seek help. The 23-time gold medalist also said that therapy saved his life in 2014. Since then, Michael has encouraged other athletes to seek help if they’re facing similar struggles.

Diagnosed with attention deficit disorder at 6, the future Olympic legend had trouble paying attention during class and retaining information. However, the young swimmer found a purpose in swimming and would spend hours practicing in the pool. Michael’s parents also encouraged him to do the same.


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Since overcoming his mental health struggles, the swimming legend has advocated for athletes’ mental health. According to Talkspace, 56% of Americans do not receive treatment for issues like depression and anxiety. Athletes are susceptible because of the pressure to perform, and Phelps wishes to change that.

Michael Phelps also promotes water safety

The Olympic gold medalist also promotes water safety for both adults and children. Through his foundation, Phelps educates adults on proper supervision when their child is swimming. They also instruct kids on the dos and don’ts of swimming. Phelps’ foundation teaches the ins and outs of water safety to people of all ages.


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Watch this story – Here Are the Exclusive Features of Michael Phelps’ Swim Spa – From Foot Therapy to Stress Reliever

Michael Phelps is undoubtedly an Olympic legend. Revamping the record books, he created a legacy that’ll continue to inspire every young kid who dreams of swimming competitively. While he retired from swimming years ago, Phelps continues to raise awareness about mental health and won’t stop anytime soon. 

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Written by:

Sagnik Bagchi


One take at a time

Sagnik Bagchi is a US Sports writer for EssentiallySports. He has completed his Bachelor's and Master's in English Literature from the University of Calcutta. He has experience working as a freelance MMA writer for Sportskeeda.
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Edited by:

Melroy Fernandes