Michael Phelps Talks Anxiety In 'Angst,' A New Mental Health Doc

By David Konow 10/13/17

In addition to Phelps' appearance, the new documentary primarily focuses on children and young adults as they detail their experiences with anxiety.

Michael Phelps

Five-time Olympian Michael Phelps gave a special featured interview in a new documentary called Angst: Raising Awareness Around Anxiety.

Phelps has become a big proponent for mental health awareness after struggling with anxiety and depression. He told People, “I just didn’t like who I was,” despite his incredible success as an Olympian. “If something was bothering me that would start to come up—and I would start feeling angry or depressed or upset—I would almost ignore it. I would shove it even further down, so I wouldn’t have to deal with it, so I would never have to talk about it.”

Eventually, the Olympian reached his “tipping point, where I just blew up. I couldn’t take it any longer.” Phelps told an audience at George Washington University this year, “I remember sitting in my room for four or five days not wanting to be alive, not talking to anybody. I reached that point where I finally realized I couldn’t do it alone.” (At the time, Phelps had been arrested for his second DUI, and was suspended from USA Swimming for six months.)

Angst is produced by the company IndieFlix. The goal of the movie is “to start a global conversation and raise awareness around anxiety with an emphasis on youth and families,” according to a press release for the film. In addition to a special appearance by Phelps, the film primarily features interviews with children and young adults talking about their experiences with anxiety.

“The conversation surrounding mental health really hits home for me,” Phelps says. “Many people don’t understand how debilitating mental illness truly can be, and even more than that, how common it is, yet people are afraid to have the serious discussions about it. I welcomed the opportunity to be a part of Angst to further the dialogue around mental health and to help people understand the impact anxiety has on our mental state and encourage people, especially kids, to ask for help.”

As the film is being screened, viewers can also participate in a virtual reality program that simulates panic attacks, to give them a better understanding of what suffering from anxiety is like.

As Scilla Andreen, the producer of Angst, says, “We felt it was important to make a movie that could raise awareness to open up the conversation and provide hope. So many people struggle with anxiety and have trouble talking about it. We want to change that.” 

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.