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Profile In Courage: Terry Bradshaw

To see him on television during Fox’s NFL Sunday, you would never imagine Terry Bradshaw suffers from clinical depression. After a difficult divorce in the late 1990s, Bradshaw found himself in “a hole.” He had frequent anxiety attacks, weight loss, and cried extensively. He says when he wasn’t crying, he was angry and bitter. He was also self-medicating with alcohol.

This is not the happy-go-lucky imagine most associated with Bradshaw. In a 2004 interview with USA Today he said, “”People look at me and find it shocking that I could be depressed.”

Bradshaw readily says it took courage to admit he was depressed and seek treatment. Today, he believes it is a mistake to suffer in silence and shame.

Stigma is incredibly powerful. We’ll talk about cancer and every other disease, including alcohol and drug abuse, but people do not want to talk about depression. There’s something about depression that seems to say, ‘I’m a tremendous failure’ or ‘I’m the biggest wuss there is,’” said Bradshaw.*

Few would call this NFL Hall of Famer and two-time Super Bowl MVP a failure or a wuss. In a 2009 interview with Christine Stapleton for PsychCentral, Bradshaw said he hated every minute of all four Super Bowls he won and a dark cloud would descend on him in the weeks after. He would become paralyzed and knew something was wrong.**

Bradshaw did not feel his identity as a football player allowed him to be “emotionally weak.” As he continued to self-medicate he eventually realized he was on a path of self-destruction. Today he manages his depression through a combination of talk therapy and medication.***

“It’s hard for me to put into the words the horrific feeling of being depressed,” said Bradshaw. “It is the most sickening feeling when you believe you are miserable and all alone.”*

Besides his improved mental health, Bradshaw is a proud advocate for mental health and encourages people to seek help.

“Go see your doctor,” Bradshaw urges. “Go talk to a psychiatrist. And when you get the help you need, you’re going to wonder why you didn’t do it a long time ago.”*

The Villa Orlando and Pasadena Villa’s Smoky Mountain Lodge are adult intensive psychiatric residential treatment centers for clients with serious mental illnesses. We also provide other individualized therapy programs, step-down residential programs, and less intensive mental health services, such as Community Residential Homes, Supportive Housing, Day Treatment Programs and Life Skills training. Pasadena Villa’s Outpatient Center in Raleigh, North Carolina offers partial hospitalization (PHP) and an intensive outpatient program (PHP). If you or someone you know may need mental health services, please complete our contact form or call us at 877-845-5235 for more information.

* USA Today, Terry Bradshaw’s Winning Drive Against Depression, January 30, 2004
** PsychCentral, If Terry Bradshaw Can Do It…, March 2009

*** NAMI Blog, Football: A Mind Game, February 2, 2011