By Mike McMahan, LPC
Kudos to legendary rock ‘n’ roller Bruce Springsteen for opening up about his struggles with depression. Springsteen spoke candidly about the challenges he’s faced regarding the illness, which he has struggled with since entering his 60s. As we age, depression can be linked with facing later-in-life challenges such as medical conditions and the passing of friends and family members.
Springsteen stated that his depression symptoms “lasted for more than a year, and then it (the depression) would slip away. Then it would come back for a year-and-a-half. It sneaks up on you. I got to where I didn’t want to get out of bed, you know? And you’re not behaving well at home and you’re tough on everybody. Hopefully, not the kids. I always try to hide it from the kids. But, you know, Patti really had to work with me through it … her strength and the love she had was very important.”
Having a strong support system can be a key way to battle depression, as the disease itself tends to make one feel isolated and alone. This is part of the importance of someone like Springsteen speaking out. As Springsteen has been successful by literally any standard, it’s a reminder that depression can affect anyone of any age, successful or not.
The symptoms of depression can vary. They include: lack of energy; loss of appetite or excessive appetite and accompanying weight loss or weight gain; loss of interest in hobbies or activities you used to enjoy. A general feeling of sadness that goes on for over two weeks accompanied by some or all of the symptoms listed above may be a sign that you should speak to a doctor or mental health professional.
There are numerous treatments for depression. One technique I have used with clients is channeling the negative feelings of depression into art. If you look at artists, writers and musicians, many struggle with low self-esteem or other negative self-feelings. Many also struggle with mental illness, diagnosed or not. The need to “fight the fight” is at the heart of many artists’ drive to succeed in my opinion, which may be one of the reasons that painting, writing or composing can be therapeutic for those that have never expressed themselves in that fashion. Art can be a powerful way of releasing negative energy.
Springsteen will release his memoir, Born To Run, on September 27. If his promotional interviews are any indication, it promises to be a good read.
Mike McMahan, LPC, is a psychotherapist based in San Antonio, Tx.
Therapy Goes POP
Perspectives on therapy and mental health as viewed through the lens of popular culture