Late Show host David Letterman opened up to CBS This Morning Thursday about his long battle with depression and how medication and fatherhood helped change his perspective.
The 65-year-old said he started taking prescription medication to treat his depression about two decades ago. He said finding the right prescription and dosage was a long process, and that he had given up on taking his medication because he didn’t like the side effects.
“And part of that created in me this nervous anxiety. And then I was really screwed. So that’s when I said to [my doctor] Louis [Aronne:], ‘OK, OK, I’ll try anything just to get rid of this depression,’” Leterman said. “Because it was, it’s different than, ‘Oh, I don’t feel good today.’ It’s different than feeling sad. It’s different than feeling blue.”
Letterman also said that, when he became a first-time father when he was in his mid-50s, he wasn’t sure that he would be able to be a good father and a good talk show host. His son Harry, who was named after Letterman’s father, was born in 2003, when Letterman was 56 years old.
“I just thought, when the topic would come up, ‘I can’t do both,’” Letterman said. “I can’t try to have a successful television show and be a father. And I was wrong about that — because as difficult as being a father is, it’s entirely complementary with everything else in your life.”
Letterman also said that being a dad was like getting a prescription updated. “You can see things that you never saw before,” he said.
In an interview with Oprah that will air January 6, Letterman opened up about his battle with depression as well as his on-going feud with fellow talk show host Jay Leno. He said he and Leno had always been friends before Letterman was chosen to replace Johnny Carson on the Late Show, but that their rivalry really started because Leno was insecure. He said he didn’t understand how someone so smart and funny could have so many insecurities.
Ultimately, the David Letterman of today is a different man than the one who started Late Night with David Letterman and the Late Show a decade later. He’s happier, healthier, and still at the top of the late night talk show game.
You can watch David Letterman’s interview with CBS This Morning‘s Charlie Rose below.