Mad Men’s Jon Hamm Knows a Thing or Two About Beating Depression

  • Share
  • Read Later
Elisabetta Villa/Stringer

Mad Men‘s dashing Jon Hamm, the actor who plays confident, masterful adman Don Draper, hasn’t always felt so on top of things. He says he suffered from depression, which required treatment with both therapy and medication, while he was attending the University of Texas.

Hamm tells the U.K.’s The Observer that depression set in after his father’s death while Hamm was in college. “I was … unmoored by that,” the actor said. He had already lost his mother to stomach cancer when he was 10. “I struggled with chronic depression. I was in bad shape,” Hamm told The Observer. (More on 10 Questions for Jon Hamm)

What helped? Therapy and antidepressants (indeed, research suggests that combined treatment is the best way to treat depression):

“What therapy does: it gives you another perspective when you are so lost in your own spiral … 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 to work and …’ Reset the auto-meter, kick-start the engine!”

Some researchers would chalk up Hamm’s experience on antidepressants to the placebo effect — the beneficial effect that results not from the drug (or any treatment) itself, but from the fact that the patient *believes* it will work. But as I wrote earlier here, the finding in some studies that antidepressants were no more effective than sugar pills may be due to the fact that patients’ responses to antidepressants vary widely, and not to a general ineffectiveness of antidepressants. As a fan of Hamm’s, I’m glad to hear an actor of his stature speaking out — and showing yet again that the surface is often very different from the reality.

More on

Top 10 Things We Miss About the Mad Men Era

Photos: Jon Hamm Job Making You Depressed? You’re Not Alone