How did Dave Chappelle handle being depressed? 


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Page last updated: 28/10/2022

How did Dave Chappelle handle being depressed? 

This article will discuss how comedian Dave Chappelle handled being depressed. Aside from that, the article will show why he began to feel depressed, and relate what symptoms of depression he was showing.

How did Dave Chappelle handle being depressed?

Dave Chappelle, a famous comedian, left his show mid-recording and fled to South Africa to submit himself to treatment for his depression. This was in April 2005.

A little before that, he began to show signs that he wasn’t all too well emotionally. Even though his show was a hit, the Comedy Central star felt completely stressed. He felt that ever since he signed a new deal to do his show in 2004, his life completely changed. 

He felt as if people were trying to control him, and the show. In an interview he gave to Oprah, on The Oprah Winfrey Show, he said that the problem wasn’t the fame that he was getting, which was increasing by the day, but rather the work environment he was in. 

He said: “I would go to work on the show and I felt awful every day, that’s not the way it was”. And: “I felt like some kind of prostitute or something. If I feel so bad, why keep on showing up to this place? I’m going to Africa. The hardest thing to do is to be true to yourself, especially when everybody is watching.”

He stated that he felt like people working with him were making things harder because they wanted to. Without naming anyone, he said people were even trying to put him on psychotic medication. He felt like he was being sold to journalists by people around him.

They would say he had writer’s block, and he was working well, or that he had pneumonia when he was completely healthy. All of that made him question how he could endure this work environment. Up to a point he just decided to go to South Africa and think about his life.

As he did that, he didn’t tell anyone, not even his wife. The only one who knew where he was was his brother. He said he wasn’t walking out on the money or the show, but that he wanted to have a different environment to keep going. 

He wanted new policies on the workplace, and for the show to be more socially responsible, helping people in need. 

And even though the comedian kept affirming he was going through a stressed-out phase, some of his friends have stated that he was out of control at that period. Adding on to his thoughts that people were only looking to make money from him. 

How did Dave Chappelle handle being depressed? 

Who is Dave Chappelle? 

Dave Chappelle, born Dave Khari Webber Chappelle, is an American stand-up comedian. He was born on August 24 of 1973, in Washington DC. In the early 1990s, he moved to New York to pursue a career as a comedian and quickly became known. 

And by 1992 he was acclaimed for his participation on the HBO show Russel Simmons’ Def Comedy Jam. After that, he became a known guest on many shows like Late Show with David Letterman and The Howard Stern Show. 

From then on he made guest appearances, recorded some pilots, and in 2000 he had his first hour-long special on HBO called Dave Chappelle: Killin’ Them Softly.

In 2003 he premiered his show called Chappelles’s show. The show from which he ran from production in April 2005. From then until 2013 he had some appearances on shows and did some stand-up. He went on tour with his stand-up in 2013.

From then on, he made various Netflix specials, hosted Saturday Night Live, and during the COVID-19 pandemic he did a socially distancing comedy, which came to be known as “Chappelle Summer Camp”. 

And after that, he followed on performing in the United States, and Canada. 

What are the signs that he was depressed?

The first thing to keep in mind is that it is impossible to diagnose someone based solely on what has been said. But what has been made clear, by his speech, and what is in it, is that this was a moment of high pressure for Dave Chappelle. 

One in which it is completely possible for a person to become depressed. Going through long periods of stress can take a toll on you emotionally which can lead to that. Being in a workplace where you feel used, unrecognized, and maybe even devalued can make you begin to question your self-worth and capability.

But another thing that calls out for attention in his speech is the way he talks about how people were behaving toward him. It seems somewhat paranoid, which is something that can happen when people are extremely depressed.

So although it is not possible to affirm he was depressed, there seems to be a chance he was. Either way, what seems to be the most important thing about what he went through is that he opened himself up to look for treatment. 

Even if in a tempestuous way, he managed to find the space he needed to center himself again. And that is the best to be done by anyone going through mental illness.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): How did Dave Chappelle handle being depressed? 

What are the forms of depression? 

Depression can happen in some forms. It can be mild, moderate, major, or persistent. The first one may be the hardest one to diagnose. That is because its symptoms are usually so mild, and go on for such a small period, that the person can think it is just a simple sadness. 

But when mild depression is diagnosed, it usually takes only some lifestyle changes to cope with it.

In moderate depression, the person may start to feel some impact of depression in their lives. The symptoms will be more intense, and to treat them, people usually go to therapy, and in some cases, they may even need medication.

Major depression, also known as clinical depression, is the most intense form of depression. It causes a huge impact on a person’s life. And even the simplest things, like getting out of bed can seem impossible at times. 

Aside from the common symptoms of depression, when a person has major depression, they can also experience hallucinations, become delusional, or even suffer from psychotic episodes. To treat major depression it is usually necessary for the person to do a joint treatment of medication and therapy.

And finally, there is the persistent depressive episode. This can go on for around 5 years. And it can impair the person’s life since, in that period, the person may swing from mild to major episodes. To treat it, and cope with these swings, the person may need therapy and medication.

What are the ways to treat depression? 

Depression is most often treated by a combination of therapy and medication. Therapy will allow you to get a better understanding of your emotions. You may learn how to navigate depression better, and create strategies to cope with the negative feelings.

As for the medication, it can help decrease the intensity of your depressive symptoms, and help care for the chemical imbalance in your brain. But aside from that, there are some things you can do in your day-to-day life that can help you cope with depression.

The first thing is to have a healthy lifestyle. Try to eat and sleep well, even though depression mixes that up. That will improve your energy level, and help your mood. Another thing that can help with that, is exercising. It will help reduce your stress levels, and the endorphins from it will improve your mood.

Being around people you love can also work wonders for depression. It will make you feel cared for and supported. Along with that, you will have the opportunity to vent with them about how you feel, and distract yourself from those negative thoughts depression can bring.

Another thing that can help with that, is doing things that give you some positive feelings. You can start to do some volunteer work, or take up a new hobby, like hiking. Those will not only show you new possibilities, but they may also give you a sense of accomplishment.

What are the most common symptoms of depression? 

Depression can cause you to experience intense sadness. Aside from that, it can make you lose interest in everything, even things you used to love. It can lead to feeling empty as if you lost your purpose, guilty, and ashamed.

Aside from that, depression makes you lose your energy, and your ability to focus. Causing you to experience intense fatigue and crying spells. You will become more irritable, and want to isolate yourself. It changes your eating and sleeping patterns and brings your self-esteem, and sense of self-worth down.

Depression can cause people to self-harm, and in some situations, you may start to have thoughts of death or even suicidal thoughts.

Can only medication make you better from depression? 

No, only medication may reduce the intensity of your symptoms, and help with the chemical imbalance in your brain. But you may need therapy to learn how to get a better handle on your emotions, to prevent you from feeling depressed again when you go off the medication.

Why do celebrities get depressed?

Celebrities, like any other person, can get depressed. It can be that they have a genetic tendency to it, or that the stress of their lives build-up at some point that they start to feel depressed.

And even though some people may find it strange and think that since they have such financial stability and so many people are in love with them, they should always be happy. What is not considered here is the amount of pressure they can go through.

They need to always be available and mostly show a smiley face. They can be often criticized in public, or even online, which can have an impact on their mental health. So it is important to keep in mind that even people that seem to have everything can still be depressed. 

Depression is not a condition that comes from the lack of things, but rather from feeling drained of the reality you are in.


This article centered around explaining how the comedian Dave Chappelle handled being depressed, and what may have caused him to feel like that. Aside from that, the article discussed what were the signs that he was depressed when compared to the symptoms of depression that a person should show to be diagnosed.

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