Record-setting swimmer, Michael Phelps, has won 23 Olympic gold medals but he said that “the chance to save a life” by speaking about his own experience of dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts is “way more powerful” and “lightyears better” than winning a gold medal. Phelps made these courageous statements recently at the Kennedy Forum, a summit for mental health equity.

Celebrities such as Phelps who speak openly about their struggles with depression and positive response to treatment, help to de-stigmatize mental health issues and provide greater awareness of the power of treatment. In an interview with CNN, Phelps said, “I think people actually finally understand it is real. People are talking about it and I think this is the only way that it can change.”

Many thanks to Phelps and others who are educating people that being depressed isn’t a character flaw or a failure–it is a biomedical condition that requires treatment. With counseling and in some cases also medication, the prognosis can be excellent.

We all tend to “compare our insides to other peoples’ outsides.” We imagine that people like Phelps, who look healthy and successful on the outside, do not suffer in the ways that we sometimes do. As part of the human condition, we all may deal with issues such as depression, anxiety, stress, grief, relationship issues and substance abuse at various points in our lives. Help is available.

Some of the signs of depression include:

  • Changes in sleep or appetite (sleeping too much or not enough, eating too much or not enough)
  • Apathy (not enjoying the things you normally do)
  • Irritability, negativity, agitation or anger
  • Low mood (feeling down)
  • Poor self-esteem (not feeling good about yourself)
  • Sadness, tearfulness, crying easily
  • Low motivation to do the things you need to do
  • Decreased functioning at work or school
  • Social isolation (not wanting to be around other people)
  • Self-harm (hurting yourself or putting yourself in high-risk situations)
  • Substance abuse
  • Thoughts of suicide

If you or a loved one is showing signs of depression, seek help. An assessment should be conducted by a trained mental health professional who can design a treatment plan to facilitate recovery.  Treatment for depression and anxiety can be highly successful. People who have completed our program have resulted in our treatment program receiving very highly consumer satisfaction scores and reviewsCall us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment.

Article written by Joyce Marter, LCPC