“You automatically thought you were gonna be taken away to a mental hospital”: Geezer Butler opens up about his battle with depression

It took him until the ’90s to get a diagnosis and treatment.

Geezer Butler

Credit: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

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Black Sabbath‘s Geezer Butler has opened up about his battle with depression in a new interview.

Speaking with NPR’s Bullseye With Jesse Thorn, the iconic bassist discusses the depression he first experienced when the band were in their infancy.

“I wasn’t depressed all the time,” he explains. “Just the occasional bout would come on me. At first, when it was getting really bad… Back then nobody ever said anything about depression or anything like that, and people were terrified to mention that you might be depressed because you automatically thought you were gonna be taken away to a mental hospital and be locked away forever. So you couldn’t talk about it to people in case that happened.”

He goes on to explain that, even when he reached out to his doctor, the doctor told him to “have a couple of pints” at the pub, or walk his dog.

As he wouldn’t talk to anybody about how he was feeling, he was accused of being “moody and miserable” – particularly as he had a home and financial security. It wasn’t until the 1990s that he was actually diagnosed with depression.

He says, “I was living in St. Louis at the time, and I had a bit of a nervous breakdown. And I went to this doctor, the usual doctor, and I just explained everything to him and he told me that I was clinically depressed and he put me on Prozac.

“After six weeks, I finally came out of the depression. And I thought, ‘Oh, yeah. This is what I’m supposed to feel like.’ And ever since that, I’ve been OK.”


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