Mark Ruffalo health: ‘I’ve been struggling with that my whole life’ – actor on depression

Appearing in a video for the Child Mind Institute back in 2017, the Marvel actor revealed that the most difficult part of his childhood was school, where he felt “strange, unique and freakish”. But giving advice to his younger self the star went on to say: “I would say to my older self now, or my younger self then, that there’s help and that there are ways to deal with it, to manage it and to overcome it . ” This was not the only time Ruffalo has spoken out about his depression di lui, in another interview he explained that he still sometimes struggles with his mental health di lui in adulthood.

During the promotion of the 2014 autobiographical film Infinitely Polar Bear, where Ruffalo played a character with bipolar, the actor told The Observer: “People are so afraid of mental illness but it’s everywhere.”

Speaking about his own condition, Ruffalo added: “It’s dysthymia. It’s a long-running, low-grade depression all the time.

“I’ve been struggling with that my whole life. It’s like a low-grade depression that just is running all the time in the background. “

At one of the lowest points in the star’s life, Ruffalo said he was embarrassed by his desire to become an actor and sadly started to have suicidal thoughts.

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In 1994, tragedy struck and Ruffalo lost one of his closest friends to suicide, a death which understandably affected the actor deeply, but also served to “rock” him out of his own depression.

“When he died, it rocked me out of a dark depression,” Ruffalo recalled.

“The moment he left, I realized that death wasn’t an escape, that suicide wasn’t an answer.”

Despite having a hugely successful career in acting, Ruffalo continued to battle with his mental health, something that was made worse by the diagnosis of his acoustic neuroma – a brain tumor.


Although the operation to remove the tumor was a success, the side effects resulted in Ruffalo losing hearing in his left ear, and one side of his face became completely paralysed, meaning he had to take a break from his work and social life.

Coping with the paralysis proved difficult enough, but the road to recovery posed new challenges. According to Ruffalo, he gained over two stone in weight following his operation by him.

Additionally, the prescribed drugs resulted in a loss of balance which limited his ability to help take care of his children.

During his diagnosis and recovery, with the exception of his close friends and family, Ruffalo kept details about his condition a secret, recalling later: “I didn’t want any visitors.

“I was so unbelievably miserable, and what was worse was people’s reactions to seeing me. It was shattering to them.”

In order to help him cope with all of his lingering health woes, Ruffalo turned to meditation, which he credits for slowing down time and changing his outlook on life.

He added: “It’s pretty much a daily practice that quiets your brain and oddly enough, actually slows down time, so you’re not so much trapped in your immediate reactions to things.

“My work started to change, my luck started to change. The way the world looked to me changed.”

The National Institute of Mental Health explains that depression is a common but serious mood disorder. For some it causes severe symptoms that affect not only how you feel but how you think and handle daily activities.

If you or someone you know has been experiencing some of the following signs and symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks, it may be a sign of depression:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Moving or talking more slowly
  • Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Appetite and / or weight changes
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and / or that do not ease even with treatment.

However, not everyone with depression may experience the same symptoms. The severity and frequency will depend on the individual.

Treatment for depression can involve a combination of lifestyle changes, talking therapies and medicine. The NHS explains that talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), are often used for mild depression or moderate depression. Antidepressants are also sometimes prescribed.

For confidential mental health support call 116 123 to talk to Samaritans, or email: [email protected] for a reply within 24 hours. Alternatively text “SHOUT” to 85258 to contact the Shout Crisis Text Line, or text “YM” if you’re under 19.

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