Legendary late-night host David Letterman has struggled with depression for decades. When he was initially diagnosed, he was hesitant about taking medication; he worried the medication would cause side effects like drowsiness and hallucinations. About 20 years after his initial diagnosis, though, Letterman came down with “nervous anxiety” after taking shingles medication. This anxiety, combined with his preexisting depression, was too much for Letterman to handle. He told his doctor he changed his mind and was willing to consider prescription medication treatment.
His depression had spiraled out of control, not only due to his health issues, but also due to problems in his personal life and career. In 2009, Letterman faced a major scandal when it was revealed he had multiple affairs with several Late Show employees. He worried the high-profile sex scandal would destroy his family; he was deeply humiliated and full of regret. He described the scandal as the lowest period of his life, and said he felt as though he had dug himself into a bottomless pit.
To cope with these overwhelming feelings of despair, Letterman began taking medication and meeting with his therapist every week. He says medication has helped him overcome depression, and he even credits antidepressants with saving his life.
Photo source: David Letterman and Steve Martin by Scott Suchman/PBS