Leonard Cohen and Depression
His depression,2 in fact, seems to have been a significant factor in his life until it lifted in the 1990s. While Cohen has taken antidepressants, they were not the key to the dissipation of his despondency.
In this interview,3 he discusses, with his characteristic candor and dark humor, his course of treatment and his decision to unilaterally discontinue these medications:
[Interviewer] Which have you tried?
[Leonard Cohen] “Oh, let’s see. I was involved in early medication, like Desipramine. And the MAOs [monoamine oxidase inhibitors], and the new generation — Paxil, Zoloft, and Wellbutrin. I even tried experimental anti-seizure drugs, ones that had some small successes in treating depression. I was told they all give you a ‘bottom,’ a floor beneath which you are not expected to plunge.”
[Leonard Cohen] “I plunged. And all were disagreeable, in subtly different ways.”
[Leonard Cohen] “Well, on Prozac, I thought I had attained some kind of higher plateau because my interest in women had dissolved.” He laughs. “Then I realized it was just a side effect. That stuff crushes your libido.”
[Leonard Cohen] “… So one day, a few years ago, I was in a car, on my way to the airport. I was really, really low, on many medications, and pulled over, I reached behind to my valise, took out the pills, and threw out all the drugs I had. I said, ‘These things really don’t even begin to confront my predicament.” I figured, If I am going to go down I would rather go down with my eyes wide open.”
Other than being the most recent addition to the AlignMap blog’s celebrity series,4 the story in this case is all too typical: Doctor prescribes antidepressants, Patient takes antidepressants, Antidepressants don’t help and also cause side-effects, Patient, without consulting doctor, stops taking antidepressants.
- Leonard Cohen is one of my favorite artists and I write about him quite often in my personal blog, Heck Of A Guy. For my non-medical Leonard Cohen posts, see The Leonard Cohen Posts at Heck Of A Guy↩
- Cohen’s commentary on depression in general follows: “The term clinical depression finds its way into too many conversations these days. One has a sense that a catastrophe has occurred in the psychic landscape.”↩
- Mireille Silcott, A Happy Man, Saturday Night, Canada September 15, 2001, found at http://www.webheights.net/10newsongs/press/satnite.htm↩
- See also:
~Paris Hilton & Patient Noncompliance~
~Letterman, Pills, & Compliance Enhancement~↩