Naomi Judd Opened Up About Depression


Naomi Judd Opened Up About Depression

Naomi Judd opened up about depression writing for NBC News (Judd, 2017) that “Depression is a disease of the brain, just like heart disease is a disease of the heart and diabetes is a disease of the pancreas. My brain simply doesn’t make any of the happy chemicals it’s supposed to, and I have to use medication to give me a chance to have a life.”

Photo of Naomi Judd, who opened up about depression a few years back
Naomi Judd opened up about depression a few years back

She continued poignantly, “One of the aspects of my depression is that I was inert: I didn’t get off my couch for about two years. There were days that I wouldn’t brush my teeth; there were days that I wouldn’t eat much. My girlfriends knew something was going on and would beg me to come out with them. They would talk me into going to lunch, or getting our nails done, or whatever, and then they’d come to get me, and I would lock the door and hide behind the curtains.”

Describing how depression feels like, she told People magazine that, “Think of your very worst day of your whole life – someone passed away, you lost your job, you found out you were being betrayed, that your child had a rare disease – you can take all of those at once and put them together and that’s what depression feels like.” (Sands, 2018)

Putting Things in Perspective About Naomi Judd’s Depression

Naomi Judd is a Grammy-winning musical artist, an actress, a best-selling author, and a popular motivational speaker.

But, Judd’s life had been traumatic in that, growing up she did not have any financial or emotional support. She did not have anybody that watched out for her or was her mentor. Hence, she never got to deal with all the stuff that happened to her, and as she puts it “it came out sideways, as depression and anxiety. Depression is partly genetic, and I have it on both sides of my family.”

Judd used to tell herself looking in the mirror, “I’m Naomi freaking Judd. I got this.” Not only that, she even wrote that out and taped it to the mirror. But she could not pull it off because she says the problem was with her brain, and involved the way that she thought and lived every day of her life.

Finally, her husband, Larry, who knew that she had very severe depression, and was “beyond devastated”, said, “I’ve got to get you some professional help, because I don’t know what the heck to do.”

Naomi Judd Gets Treated for Depression

First, she went to a local psychiatrist in Nashville. But, as per Judd, “the guy was clueless” about how to help her. He put her on multiple medications and did not give them enough time, which is usually 4-6 weeks in the case of antidepressants, to show positive results.

Then, Larry decided to take up the matter and called up her daughter Ashley, who lived on an adjacent farm. Judd notes, “They came to me at 1:00 in the morning, called 911, and said, ‘We’re getting you into treatment’.” (Judd, 2017)

That’s how she ended up with Dr. Jerrold Rosenbaum at Massachusetts General Hospital. The treatment journey was long and painful, and there were times when she thought she was not going to make it.

Given the support she got at this time from her family – her daughters Ashley and Wynonna, and husband Larry — she advises others, “The first thing, if you’re suffering from depression, is to go people that you trust. It helps if they’ve known you a long time, because they can see that there’s a pattern. You have to raise your hand and say, ‘I’m in deep you-know-what.’ Then you have to find a reputable doctor in your area —you can call nurses (I was an ICU nurse before I started singing) because we tend to know who the good ones are.” (Judd, 2017)

Naomi Judd Goes Public About Her Depression

These days, Naomi Judd is working with the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill and the Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital to try to reduce stigma and get the word out about treatment for mental illness. Judd is aware of the staggering problem that there are almost 44 million people in America that experience mental illness in a given year. She writes on a note of positive outlook, “And there’s power in numbers: it means that there are other people. You’re not alone.” (Judd, 2017)

Naomi Judd has even written about her long battle with depression, and sometimes difficult road to cope with her illness in her compelling book River of Time: My Descent Into Depression and How I Emerged with Hope. Talking about her book she says, “This book is shocking and raw, and I know that it’s going to startle people because I was forthcoming about the horrors that I went through. But, it’s really a survival manual. It tells people how to get through it, and offers them the things that I use to keep my sanity, and keep myself happy.”

“I’m still recovering myself,” said Judd. “I’m still trying desperately trying to help myself. There’s never going to be a pill for it all. I read up on all the scientific literature, I go to courses. I try so hard to stay up on everything that I possibly can to get rid of this horrible curse. Those thoughts of suicide don’t come anymore. But I’m vulnerable. I know I can backslide.” (Sands, 2018)

Naomi Judd’s Final Thoughts on Depression

Judd opines, “Mental illness is a disease, just like heart disease or diabetes. Depression is a disease of the brain. It’s not a character flaw. It’s nothing you can control. You have a disease of the brain, because it doesn’t make the good chemicals that you need to be comfortable and happy. You can’t treat it like a broken arm. It’s not a handicap. When you have depression, other people only know it by the way that you are acting in front of them, unless you tell them that you are going through the dark night of the soul.” (Dauphin, 2017)

Words of Advice

In the end, she has some advice. “Find a psychiatrist, a therapist, or a really concerned friend who is smarter than you are. If you have a problem, you need to talk to somebody who has more answers than you have. I would go to my therapist and tell them that I wasn’t feeling good about myself. I’m really scared because I don’t know how much darker this is going to be. I’m barely hanging on by my fingernails right now. I really need you to teach me some new stuff. He would teach me integrated approaches which would keep me in the present, such as exercise, music, meditation, yoga, just living in the moment. Those are just a few of the things that don’t cost money, and are not invasive. They are things that you can do right now to help yourself reduce the stress.”

“That was one of the biggies for me, having someone to affirm my feelings: you’re not going crazy. This is a really hard time. Maybe you were born this way. We’re going to have to figure out how to handle these situations with your brain not making enough of a happy chemical. I want the reader to know that I’ve been there. I get it. And, I am standing in front of you right now and telling you that there is hope.” (Dauphin, 2017)


Dauphin, C. (2017, November 29). Naomi Judd Opens Up About Her ‘Shocking’ Battle with Depression with Hopes to Help Others. Retrieved March 6, 2020, from

Judd, N. (2017, December 6). My depression kept me inert for two years. My family’s help got me through. Retrieved March 6, 2020, from NBC News:

Sands, N. (2018, October 2). Naomi Judd Offers Hope to Those Battling Depression During Mental Illness Awareness Week. Retrieved March 6, 2020, from People:


Naomi Judd Opened Up About Depression
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Naomi Judd Opened Up About Depression
Naomi Judd opened up about depression to NBC News, saying, “My brain simply doesn't make any of the happy chemicals it’s supposed to.”
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