Conan O’Brien and depression- When comedians feel sad

This article will show how the comedian and presenter Conan O’Brien has been struggling with depression, and what he has said about dealing with the condition. It will show how the condition can affect everyone, and discuss why many famous people may develop depression. 

Conan O’Brien speaks up about depression

Conan O’Brien has been dealing with depression for many years. And he has been open about it. When discussing his condition in an interview with Howard Stern in 2015, he said that it was hard for him to initially believe he was depressed. 

He never thought that someone like him would be depressed, but it was through talking with a professional, and discussing the symptoms of depression, that he realized he was depressed.

He has also said that since he realized he is depressed, he has been in treatment. At first, he feared that the medication and therapy would take his comedic edge, but he accepted it and has been in medication and therapy ever since.

With time he realized that the treatment only made his work better. And later he came to say that it all works like a push that causes him to keep going. He has stated that it feels like putting a little oil on an engine so it can work better.

In the same 2015 interview, Conan said that he felt the effects of depression on his work. When he was working on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, every time he would get to the studio, he would feel his heart pounding, which showed how anxious he was about making a good job.

It seems the pressure to maintain his success and all he had worked for became overwhelming to him. And this is understandable when you go through difficult experiences. And he had his share of those.

In 2010, he went through one of the most traumatic experiences in his career. In January of that year, he was fired from his dream job. He was no longer the presenter of The Tonight Show. And it all happened disconcertingly, only seven months after he started the job. 

After that, he and his wife said that it was when he felt more depressed. He would stay home, and try to find ways to keep productive, he would take the kids to camp, or cook dinner. But his wife said: “Those weeks after the tour, where not much was going on, Conan was misera­ble,…That  was when he was the most de­pressed.”

A colleague of his also shared how he perceived Conan in that period. Andy Richter said that being fired from the show “Was traumatic for Conan.”

He also said: “I hated to see him in such a state of ten­sion and unhappiness,”. And even though Conan had this dark moment, he managed to find a way to keep comedy alive. After he got fired, he went on performing a comedy in a show he called Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour.

But what he took from all this situation, is how much Show Business can demand of a person’s energy and mental health, causing them to insist on it too much in it. He said:

“The crazy thing about this business, the thing that keeps you going, is you’re al­ ways greedy. You can get into a funk, and beat up on yourself. Because you’re always thinking, ‘Maybe I can get one more mo­ment like that out of my career.’ And you’ll walk across the glass to get it.”

Conan’s battle with depression has been public knowledge for quite some time, and even though people may find it hard to understand how someone so funny, rich, and successful can be depressed, it is important to highlight that this could happen to anyone.

Some reasons can make people think about why celebrities tend to become depressed. Let’s discuss what they are.

Why do many celebrities develop depression?

It is common for people to ask what celebrities have to be sad about. It may be hard for people to understand that even though they can have a safe financial life, and are loved by many, they still go through difficult times.

And above all that, there it is known that depression can have a genetic factor to it. And in that way, all humans, be they celebrities or that, can be susceptible to developing depression. 

There is a theory called the diathesis-stress model that explains how depression may develop in everyone, causing it to affect even celebrities. It states that since there is this biological aspect to depression, the people that have it, can develop it easier.

And when they face a stressful situation, it is when depression can happen. In a nutshell, two people can have the same genetic background, but if one of them lives a stress-free life, they may not get depressed. On the other hand, if the other person is living a stressful life, they will most likely develop depression. 

This may be a way of explaining why famous people and even comedians can develop depression. They deal with a great load of stressful situations, they can be on the spot in the worst times of their lives. For example, when Conan was fired from The Tonight Show, the attention he got from it, could pile on in all that he was already feeling.

The stress of always being good, to maintain himself as a relevant comedian, and entertainer can also be extremely stressful. And even though comedians may have a neck to turning bad situations into jokes, humor and positive thinking can only take them so far. 

At some point, things can become darker than they wished them to be, and depression can settle in.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Is Conan O’Brien depressed? 

What are the common treatments for depression? 

Depression is usually treated with a combination of things. The first one is professional support. It may be therapy, a psychiatrist, or both. Therapy will help you understand more of your emotions, and how to handle them more positively.

As for the psychiatrist, this doctor that specializes in mental health will be able to prescribe you medication. With that, you may feel like your symptoms of depression are improving. Along with that, the medication will help with the chemical imbalance that can be causing you to feel depressed.

But those are not the only ways for people to cope with depression. People may also make some changes in their way of living that can help them feel better. The first one should be to have a balanced life. Eating and sleeping well will make you feel more energetic. Exercising will also help with that. 

And although it can seem hard to do when you are depressed, know that even taking a short walk can help you. Exercising will reduce your stress level, and also improve your mood. Aside from that, you may want to keep yourself open to your loved ones. 

And even though depression may cause you to want to isolate yourself, know that having people that you love close, can have many benefits. It will not only give you the chance to distract yourself or vent about your negative thoughts. But it will also give you the chance of seeing yourself through their loving eyes.

You should also try to keep yourself open to new possibilities. Try some volunteer work, or may discover a new hobby. Try to do something that will give you the chance to experience positive emotions, and that may also give you some sort of sense of accomplishment.

What are the main causes of depression? 

Although there are studies still being done, it is known that depression can happen because of some factors. It can happen easier to people that have a genetic predisposition to it. Meaning that when you have a family history of depression, you have a higher chance to experience it.

Along with that, it seems to be a matter of chemical imbalance, so if a person is experimenting with a chemical imbalance in their brain, it can lead to depression. And finally, it can be related to external factors, the person may be going through a traumatic situation, such as the end of a relationship, or as Conan, being fired from their job, and this can lead them to develop depression.

Can only medication make my depression better? 

Medication alone won’t be able to make you recover from depression. Depending on the type of depression a person has, medication will be extremely important. It can be, as said by Conan, what helps them move forward.

But medication can only go for so long. When depressed, the person also needs to get a better handle on their emotions. Learning how to cope with them, and positively externalize them can be extremely important when dealing with depression. 

So keep in mind, if you are going through depression, that there is a lot more available to help you than just medication.

Does depression have a cure?

No, depression doesn’t have a cure. Rather than that, mental health professionals usually say that depression goes into remission. That is said because it is impossible to affirm that someone will never come to develop depression again.

But it is important to highlight that when you go into remission, you will be able to experience positive emotions again. You will regain your sense of joy and will be interested in things once more. And as you feel better, to try and prevent a relapse, you can continue to care for your mental health as you did before.

Is being fired a traumatic situation?

Yes, being fired can be a traumatic situation. It can be something that caught you off guard, and you may feel that losing this job will have a huge impact on your life. Aside from that, in many cases, being fired also means you may deal with a rejection, and the loss of your sense of security, especially financial security. 

When that is the case, you may feel your world has changed, and your sense of identity may be shaken, all of this make being fired a traumatic situation.


This article centered on the comedian Conan O’Brien, and how he has been dealing with depression for many years. It highlighted how he has been dealing with it, and why many celebrities may develop depression.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to write them in the section below.


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