When we think of Bruce Springsteen, we think of, well, The Boss. A strong man in control of his life. A talented musician and a prolific humanitarian. He’s still all of those things, and he’s also a man who has experienced bouts of mental illness throughout his adult life.
He’s proof that anybody — anybody — can suffer from depression, and hopefully his willingness to speak so openly about the illness that left him “crushed” in his early ’60s will encourage other men to seek help.
Because there are a lot of them out there. According to the Movember Foundation, the highest rate of depression is in men aged 40 to 59. On average, 87 men each day die by suicide in the U.S. — more than four times the number of women. And every minute, somewhere in the world, a man dies by suicide.
Speaking to Vanity Fair ahead of the release of his autobiography, Born to Run, Springsteen credits his wife, Patti Scialfa, with helping him get through his mental health battle. “Patti will observe a freight train bearing down, loaded with nitroglycerin and running quickly out of track… she gets me to the doctors and says, ‘This man needs a pill,'” he said.
Many people with mental illness struggle to share their feelings with someone else, but the support of a partner can be life-changing. Men in particular may find it tough to open up, simply because they’re used to keeping a lid on challenging emotions. They may have assumed the role of the “strong” person in the family or grew up being discouraged from showing anything that could possibly be perceived as weakness.
Possible signs of depression in men include isolating themselves from others, aggressive behavior, feelings of helplessness or worthlessness, drinking more than is normal for them and irritability. If you spot any of these signs in your loved one, the first step is to talk to him. Let him know you care, and ask what’s going on with him and how he’s feeling. And crucially, be prepared to listen without judgment.
If you think professional help is required, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with a doctor or counselor. It’s vital to have a solid support system in place — for you and for him.
To speak with someone immediately, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK).
If you believe a life is in danger, call 911, or go directly to emergency services.