Men don’t always talk about mental health issues. Thankfully, these ones did.
Six million men are diagnosed with depression every single year. However, according to recent statistics compiled by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, that figure could actually be a lot higher. The stats showed that men are much less likely to report their depression than women are—and they’re even less likely to seek out professional help. Even more sobering: men who suffer from depression commit suicide with four times the frequency of our female counterparts.
Since May is officially Mental Health Awareness Month, we’ve decided to celebrate a few of the famous and successful men who have bravely broken ranks with their gender and opened up about their depression in the past—and detailed the ways in which they managed to overcome it. So if you’re feeling the insidious effects of depression entering your life—if you’re feeling tired, irritable, and largely indifferent—please know that you’re not alone. We’d urge you to see out professional help immediately. And if your symptoms are more manageable, here are several drug-free ways you can use to battle the blues.
The Mad Men star famously lost his mother to stomach cancer when he was ten years-old and his father just ten years later. Over the years, Hamm has opened up about his bouts of chronic depression many times.
To beat it, Hamm says he relied on a strong support system of friends, and, as he detailed to the UK’s The Observer: “I did therapy and antidepressants for a brief period, which helped me. Which is what therapy does: it gives you another perspective when you are so lost in your own spiral, your own bullshit. It helps. And honestly? Antidepressants help! If you can change your brain chemistry enough to think: ‘I want to get up in the morning; I don’t want to sleep until four in the afternoon. I want to get up and go do my shit and go to work and…’ Reset the auto-meter, kick-start the engine!” For more on Jon Hamm, here’s his Best Life interview.
The Boss experienced depression during the early 80s while working on his seminal album Nebraska, and was even suicidal, according to one friend and biographer. “My issues weren’t as obvious as drugs,” Springsteen recalled to The New Yorker. “Mine were different, they were quieter—just as problematic, but quieter. With all artists, because of the undertow of history and self-loathing, there is a tremendous push toward self-obliteration that occurs onstage.”
Fortunately, Springsteen’s friend and manager Jon Landau connected him with a therapist, and his wife, Patti Scialfa attributes that to his recovery. “He was able to look at himself and battle it out,” she’s said.
It may come a surprise to comic-book fans, but the man who plays Captain America actually struggles with depression and anxiety—particularly when tasked with promotional duties for one of his Marvel blockbusters. “I… struggle with anxiety sometimes, especially when promoting films like this. Just the life of doing what I do, being in the public eye, it’s a stressful environment. So it’s good to go and talk about the things that cause your anxiety,” Evans told ShortList magazine. These days, he meditates and studies Buddhism to boost his mental wellbeing. And for some of Evans’s gym tips, here are his biggest Muscle-Building Secrets.
The Baywatch star fought depression—or “battled that beast,” in his words—in his early 20s when his football career hit a dead-end. “I found that, with depression, one of the most important things you could realize is that you’re not alone,” he told the Oprah Winfrey Network. To move forward, he says he needed to “have faith, that on the other side of your pain, is something good.”
Everyone’s favorite romantic prince was only 12-years-old when his mother, Princess Diana, tragically died in a car accident. As he’s recently disclosed, he’s struggled to process his grief for nearly two decades—even feeling dangerously close to nervous breakdown on several occasions. As he told The Telegraph, he eventually found an outlet in talk therapy, as well as boxing. These days, he has used his story to help advocate for mental health awareness.
In 2004 profile for CBS, the famous comedian admitted to dealing with bouts of depression at several points of his professional life, and revealed that he went on Prozac for a period, which “may have helped me out of a jam for a little bit.” Today, Carrey swears by transcendental meditation to bolster his mental health.
Back in the 1990s, Pitt was arguably the biggest star on the planet. But his thriving career and worldwide adoration couldn’t protect him from the throes of depression. “I was smoking way too much dope… I was doing the same thing every night and numbing myself to sleep, the same routine,” he told The Hollywood Reporter.
Pitt credits traveling as a helpful force in his life—especially a trip to Casablanca, which broadened his perspective by opening his eyes to an extreme level of poverty he says he never witnessed before. Today, Pitt remains focused on keeping himself mentally healthy, especially amid his recent divorce. As he told GQ Style: “I just started therapy. I love it, I love it. I went through two therapists to get to the right one.” He also quit drinking.
In 2006, Greinke was a promising young pitcher for the Kansas City Royals. But he had suffered from social anxiety since high school, and when he reached the pros he found that his anxiety was so severe that he nearly quit baseball entirely. Instead, the Royals put Greinke on the disabled list, he visited a therapist and began taking Zoloft. He returned to baseball and even won the American League Cy Young Award with Kansas City in 2009. He continues to take Zoloft and says, “The medicine is the greatest thing ever . . . it’s amazing. I wish I had known about it before.”
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