USA’s Most-Decorated Olympian Gets Real About His Depression & Suicidal Thoughts

Blog-Michael Phelps Gets Real About His Depression & Suicidal Thoughts

It’s been reported as many as 55% of the population have seriously considered suicide at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, suicidal behavior and completed suicides are also common. Often associated with untreated anxiety and depressive disorders, suicidal behavior often occurs when a person feels as though he or she has no other option in life.

That’s how Olympian, Michael Phelps felt

Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time. He’s won 28 medals in swimming, 23 of them gold. But he’s just as human as the rest of us, and he’s experienced serious bouts of depression in his life. And he revealed to CNN this week that at one point, he even contemplated suicide.

This week Phelps spoke to CNN’s David Axelrod at the Kennedy Forum, a behavioral health advocacy group, and opened up about his experience with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.

When Success Isn’t Enough

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

“Really, after every Olympics I think I fell into a major state of depression,” said Phelps when asked to pinpoint when his trouble began. He noticed 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. “I would say ’04 was probably the first depression spell I went through.”

Depression is a real illness

If you or a loved one suffers with this debilitating condition, we want you to know you are not alone. Over 40 million Americans struggle with anxiety disorders, roughly 18 percent of the population, and only one-third of those suffering will receive treatment.

Depression and suicide devastates families, often leaving parents, spouses, and children feeling abandoned, guilt-stricken, and depressed.

We Can Help

If you are having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

It is very important to determine the nature and origin of these behaviors because that will predict appropriate treatment. If you or someone you know is suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts we would love to speak with you today. Please reach out at 888-288-9834 or schedule a visit. You are not alone.


  1. I think a lot of people who would love to get tested at your clinic can’t because of the expense. I simply cannot afford it. I am being treated by a psychiatrist in Nashville. My insurance stinks so they’res no way I can afford treatment at the Amens Clinic. Am I right?

    Comment by lisa KEENER — February 9, 2018 @ 6:08 AM

  2. Way to Go Michael Phelps !! You won the Gold in the Biggest Olympics Ever…LIFE!! ❤️

    Comment by Mary — February 9, 2018 @ 7:03 AM

  3. When I take the attention support that I bought from Dr. Amen it seems to have the effect of causing me to have severe depression, has this happened to anyone else ?

    Comment by Gerald Huber — February 9, 2018 @ 8:16 AM

  4. I agree with Lisa! My husband suffers and our insurance is high deductible! I think the health insurance companies are keeping us from getting help.

    Comment by Dianne — February 9, 2018 @ 9:52 AM

  5. It is under $4000 and worth every single penny. They have a payment plan. I was severely depressed and under chronic stress. Once I completed the SPECT scans and blood work and identified my problems and began their suggested supplements, my relief was almost immediate. I feel mentally like a new person and I went in December 2017. They have excellent follow up hour long phone calls too. My thoughts were – I save for a rainy day and the rainy day is NOW.

    Comment by Dale Ash — February 9, 2018 @ 9:55 AM

  6. Yes, you’re right Lisa. I’m in the same boat and have made the same comment in other venues. Until Amen starts offering scholarships or gets Insurers to take Health Ins. , this stuff is a pipe dream for most of us.

    Comment by P.B. — February 9, 2018 @ 9:58 AM

  7. If you do go for a SPECT scan, make sure there is a staff psychiatrist who has significant experience/longevity in reading these scans. I took my teen son for a SPECT but the psychiatrist (longtime in practice but new to Amen) missed the diagnosis. So after months of giving my son the wrong Amen supplements I returned and someone new reviewed the scan, confirming the original mistake. Unfortunately by that time I had a non-compliant teenager who didn’t believe supplements would help:/ I write this to possibly save someone else having the same issues.

    Comment by Mea — February 9, 2018 @ 11:41 AM

  8. Dale, if you have to come from another state, i.e. I would have to come from Massachusetts and stay in New York city overnights in hotel…you are talking about $5,000; most of which won’t be covered by insurance. I know, I know: “What is your health worth?” Well, because of my dep. I have not saved well nor earned as much as I should. So I cannot afford it. Even CreditCare is a glorified credit card after year one. The payments will be steep.
    I never hear Daniel Amen or his staff commenting on the financial part of this – same thing with other functional MD’s like Mark Hyman. Crickets…

    Comment by P.B. — February 9, 2018 @ 12:10 PM

  9. Good to know about the $4000.00 – that’s the first time I’ve heard a cost. Thank you! About how much do you pay for supplements per month?

    So glad this has worked for you and that you are doing well!

    Comment by Beegee — February 9, 2018 @ 12:44 PM

  10. My daughter has had lots of testing and is on many meds and supplements. My question is …….would she have to go off her meds to get the scan and blood tests? She has seizures so going off would be huge. I’m just wondering if her scan would be different due to all the meds she already takes.

    Comment by SharonE — February 9, 2018 @ 6:34 PM

  11. As a mental health professional I have to agree with the comments made about financial concerns about treatments, and the difficulty in making those decisions of what to pay for. People who say what is your health worth are usually people who have some means of paying for these things. When the choice is housing or health, food or health what do you choose. A lot of people with mental health issues are struggling to meet basic needs and to choose them over taking care of mental health. I’m just suggesting that until you have to make those choices don’t ask what your mental health concerns are worth.

    Comment by MarilynH — February 10, 2018 @ 2:35 AM

  12. I’m a major sufferer and have been thru the Amen process. I can talk to you about it if you like.

    Comment by Lanea — February 10, 2018 @ 7:44 AM

  13. Best to call an Amen clinic and ask them. Taking a patient off seizure meds is not desirable option.

    Comment by E Smith, Tucson — February 10, 2018 @ 1:26 PM

  14. So true re: cost. Most people who need help so desperately are not financially secure enough to afford it…because they’re not mentally stable enough to work…even though they’re highly intelligent. It is discouraging to be stuck in that viscous cycle, making their situation worse. It’s sad that it is totally out of reach for most.

    Comment by Kate — February 10, 2018 @ 7:54 PM

  15. Dale Ash – what was the solution for You?

    Comment by Daniel Hemlad — February 10, 2018 @ 8:26 PM

  16. Agree…but $ 4,000 to be recommended supplements?

    Comment by Denee — February 10, 2018 @ 9:41 PM

  17. They will recommend financing but i think 15 k is more what it cost for treatment. They don’t take charity…its definitely for people who have the funds only.
    Check out Brainwave Optimization for depression.
    Amen had a great concept ..but it’s not for the low or middle class.

    Comment by Denee — February 10, 2018 @ 9:44 PM

  18. You should research the Ketogenic diet and it actually cures seizures. This could save anyone’s life.

    Comment by Giovanni — February 11, 2018 @ 3:23 PM

  19. Hello SharonE. We know people worry they may not get accurate scans while on medication, but many of our patients are scanned on their medications and the scans are still very valuable. NEVER discontinue any medication or nutritional supplement necessary for your physical health. These include, but are not limited to, blood pressure medications, blood thinners, diabetes or thyroid medications, and medications that treat heart or lung problems. If you decide to be scanned off all medications and supplements, please consult your prescribing physician before discontinuing any medication. In general, we do recommend patients discontinue stimulants 4 days prior to the first scan appointment and stay off of them until the scan appointment is completed.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 12, 2018 @ 11:59 AM

  20. The brain SPECT is a valuable tool in the process of figuring out what’s going on. It showed our teenage son had mild TBI from when he hit his head at age 7 and had one staple- it contributed to his late development of ADHD.
    We didn’t see a huge improvement using the supplements and felt something else was going on.
    I wish the Amen Clinic would mesh the work of the Walsh Institute- looking at biochemistry- with their work. They’d compliment each other.
    We determined my son has high copper toxicity, which wreaks havoc on the brain. A simple blood test of copper and ceruloplasmin with a quick calc found this problem. The solution? Combination of Supplements!

    Comment by Michaele — February 12, 2018 @ 6:43 PM

  21. I went to the Amen Clinic for a different reasons. First for my son in October 2015. Then for my husband, daughter and other son and myself in July 2016. We went for a Toxic Mold Exposure. The price was $3000 each and worth every penny as it showed the damage from Toxic Mold. It is a 3 day visit. It is amazing what the SPECT scan shows.

    Comment by Lucia Vignola — February 13, 2018 @ 1:39 PM

  22. Michaele high copper is very common in Australia, it is from all the old copper waterpipes. It carries over the placenta so babies are born with it. It causes mood swings, hormonal imbalances & worse of all blocks a lot of essential minerals. Best way to get rid of high copper is to take 30mg zinc & 2-4,000mg vitamin c. Daily. This will clear the copper to normal levels. Get a blood test after 9 month of this. It may take a year or two but excess weight will drop as well & the anger & frustration will subside and your body will then be able to uptake minerals from your food.
    Just zinc & vitamin c! Goodluck!

    Comment by Theresa Patterson — March 16, 2018 @ 1:31 AM

  23. I never saw a response as to how much it costs (average) to stay on the supplements they suggest. I have major depression – will they take me off my meds. Can their supplements replace meds? Thank you

    Comment by Nancy Shockey — June 4, 2018 @ 1:39 PM

  24. Hello Nancy, Dr. Amen’s recommended supplements can be found here: For additional information, there is customer support information on the website as well.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — June 4, 2018 @ 2:46 PM

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