Jon Hamm on his depression earlier in life

A London newspaper article quoted Jon Hamm (TV series ‘Mad Men’ and other movie and tv projects) about his life following the death of his father when he was 20, including his recovery from depression.

Hamm said, ‘I very much knew what the idea of permanence was by that point. I dropped out of school, moved into the basement of my older half-sister Julie’s house, enrolled in a local college and sank into depression.

‘It was the classic definition of clinical depression; you want to stay in bed all day, you sleep till four o’clock in the afternoon. I didn’t have any drive to get up and do anything.

‘It was rough: it stinks.

‘Other people who are better than me at putting thoughts into words describe it as a black cloud that descends on you.

‘You become numb. You feel so overwhelmed that it’s hard to take any step towards solving your situation.’

(Were there suicidal thoughts?)

‘Yeah, sure. When you’re in that space that’s something that comes up. It’s like a record skipping; it just gets caught in this loop and needs to be jostled out of the loop. And then all of a sudden the song plays again and then you get back on the track.

‘I was prescribed Prozac, which I took for a month. The therapy and the pharmaceuticals clear up your brain chemistry just enough so you can start taking steps forward.’

(He worked in a restaurant as he came out of his depression.)

‘I was a dishwasher in a local Greek restaurant. No money, but it was something to do. It got me out of bed. I like restaurants. They become these weird families and you get very close to people.’

(Hamm still feels astonishment at being cast as a leading man.)

‘I was at the very bottom of the list. I wasn’t even on the list,’ he jokes.

‘Aggressively casual’ is how Jon, 6ft 1in, describes his own style

‘Famous people bring more viewers to television and I was not by anyone’s definition famous. I had to audition eight times before studio executives were convinced. Of course I was thrilled to get the job.

‘And then what always happens, you get the job and you go, “Oh, now I actually have to do it!”’

From ‘I was at the very bottom of the list’: How Mad Men’s Jon Hamm finally became a leading man, By Elaine Lipworth, Daily Mail 10 March 2012.

[Photo: Elisabeth Moss and Jon Hamm in Mad Men – AMC TV series.]


According to the online listing “Famous People Who Have Suffered from Depression or Manic-Depression,” people in the arts who have declared publicly they are bipolar or unipolar include:

Tim Burton, Francis Ford Coppola, Sheryl Crow; Ellen DeGeneres; Charles Dickens, Patty Duke; Connie Francis; Mariette Hartley; Margot Kidder; Kristy McNichol; Kate Millett; Sinead O’Connor; Marie Osmond; Dolly Parton; Bonnie Raitt; Jeannie C. Riley; Roseanne, Axl Rose, Winona Ryder, Francesco Scavullo, Lili Taylor, Tom Waits, Robin Williams and others.

From my article Depression and Creativity.