Comedian Pete Holmes on depression and negative emotion

Everyone’s experience with depression is different,
but for comedian Pete Holmes the key to living
with depression has been to observe his own thoughts in an impartial way. Holmes’ method, taught to him by psychologist
and spiritual leader Ram Dass, is to connect to his base consciousness and think about
himself and his emotions in the third person. You
can’t push depression away, but
you can shift
your mindset to help better cope with depression, anxiety, and negative emotions. If you feel depressed, you
can connect with
a crisis counselor anytime in the US.

About the author


  1. Thanks for trying but you don't seem to have anything near an answer. Acknowledging your depression and then leaving it there is like seeing your knee bleed and saying "hello blood" – what's that going to do? Our main problem in the West is that we're not very "scientific" when it comes to confronting depression – we are heavily biased towards who we will listen to. Just look at the categories of people who do not suffer (relatively) from depression and follow them. Or let's put it a different way: Do you make much eye contact with people when you are out in the public? Do you spend a lot of time in front of the computer/TV at home, not communicated with other people? Do you feel that your life will be over if you loose your job or do not get this or that? When you wake up every morning, do you feel a great sense of purpose to do something good? If your answer is no to all of these questions, then what do you expect other than depression? If I sound tough, it is because I love you (outside the West, like in the Middle East, people are comfortable telling each other that they love each other as brothers and sisters), whoever is reading this, so I need to tell you stuff straight, rather than being wishy washy about stuff. Got any questions about depression, feel free to respond this comment.

  2. Witness? Huh? I've been getting treatment for depression since 1997, and I don't know what a witness is. 🤨

  3. Thank you. I’m going to have to watch this a couple of times. I notice that I am overwhelmed and my self says “ that is depression, go take your medicine”

  4. I love this way of thinking but at the same time, who the hell knows if that’s just the gateway to acceptance of schizophrenia or dissociative identity disorder, lol. As soon as I start thinking of myself as not myself, or as a third person framework, what happens if I decide I don’t wanna come back to that first person state that IS depressed and anxious?

  5. As Ive grown older Ive realized that emotions are not the most important thing. They dont define us and shouldnt be the only factor for making decisions. However, it is important to acknowledge them and give them dignity, because as much as it sucks to suffer, it also makes us more empathetic. Ive also noticed that focusing on our feelings too much gives us an ego, which takes us out of society and makes us feel lonely.

  6. Might wanna be careful when referring to yourself in the third person. It can make you look crazy. 🙂

  7. Just look at the news showing all the parents losing their baby's to bombings.. They are the ones experiencing real depression if you ask me. Compared to them your life is amazing

  8. It's easier to want to think that there are different ways to see things when you realize that you're tired of trying to sort through the depression and you just want the other way of seeing things. Simple demonstrations on things in life (a bounding puppy) can just turn the coin for us, and those give us vital clues about what we need to seek and have, and that's what people need to be reminded more of.

  9. friendly happy cheerful people annoy the fucking crap out of me. watching this is like fingernails across a chalkboard. I feel like you're doing this exaggerated happy to manage my mood. managing my mood is not your place and it's patronizing as fuck. just talk like a normal person. you're not going to defeat depression by shoving happy down people's throats.
    you can manage it with logic and rational thinking- to an extent. you can manage it behaviorally. but you still have the feels. imagine how you feel when you hear a puppy crying. then imagine you got that feeling at any time for any duration. you can't make it stop by comforting the puppy because there's no puppy. it's just in your head but you can't control it. even if you can control how the feelings make you behave the feels start to accumulate like a burden getting heavier and heavier until you're spending all your willpower not getting crushed by it and there's nothing left to do anything except not be depressed.

  10. Love Pete. Such a wholesome dude. I have certainly had my bouts throughout my life, and I can attest that Pete is right in saying that when you are in it, it can be such a blinding fog that only until you have distanced yourself from it can you start to process that you were/are depressed. I moved to LA to pursue a career in comedy and 8 weeks later my mom passed away. I was living in a 25 person home, I was unemployed, and life was a fucking nightmare. It took me almost 2 years to feel like I fully closed that chapter. And any advice I can try to add is do your best to exercise. That is nature's anti-depressant and going for a jog or doing some pushups can be the catalyst to get your mind off things. Also the human brain tends to amplify it's emotions the more it thinks about them. Complaining to your friends/family about your coworkers or whatever is eating you works you up into a more heated state. I think depression works the same way where the more you think about how out of control life is, how worthless you feel, or you compare yourself to others and feel like you will never catch up, those cycling thoughts can be like getting pummeled with bats and life feels easier to just give up and go to sleep. One thought that has been keeping me going lately, is the idea of how many generations of ancestors had to go through terrible conditions to get you where you are today. Life is hard, and the challenges you face are far different than anything that has come before. You are stronger than you think, believe in yourself, set goals, and stay motivated.

  11. praying for an earthquake…that’s what I have named it…when you realize that you are middle aged in the 21st century and there is no war, no immediate danger, no immersion that can distract you from your own pitiful, pointless existence…and you pray for that catastrophe to hit and enable you to run and scream for your life.

  12. This brought me to tears. I’ve had chronic depression for 14 years and just recently have started mindfulness and stoicism practices. Been trying to explain to my mother about it too because we have been so ignorant of our shared traumatic experiences, anxiety, and depression in a society that historically shuns you for speaking openly about it. Really liked this vid and I will definitely be reflecting upon on it again!

  13. Wonderful representation of how it’s a daily and everchanging struggle that shows and hides itself when it pleases. My parents never understood why I dont “stay better” and still have bouts of depression. It’s an ignorance that makes me want to cry, they won’t even watch this educational tool.

  14. This man's smile makes me want to murder people.

    Jesus christ. You just assume everybody's on the same new age/psychiatric nutwheel you're on.

  15. In portuguese we have different verbs for permanent states (I am tall, I am human, I am a teacher) and temporary states (I am hungry, I am late, I am depressed) but that has absolutely no influence in making people less suscetible to depression. People can "get depression" even if they don't know the word depression. This notion of getting out of depression using semantics tricks is absurd.

  16. Pretty sure this came up in my suggested videos because I've watched a few clips of Bill Burr on Pete's show…and not because I've been having a big WWE-style rumble with depression for about 2 years. Anyway, this is helpful, and I think when a person is in that quicksand it's important to listen for encouragement from all angles and places. Sometimes help comes quite unexpectedly…if you're able to receive it.

  17. Great perspective. Here's one that helped me: what is the evolutionary purpose of these "negative" emotions that come up for all of us? They are called "social emotions" for a reason. They are there to more closely connect us together. The biggest mistake we all make is to turn our negative feelings into a solo mission. We either minimize the negativity or try to work through it on our own. Don't get me wrong—there is value in doing that, but it only works to some extent. The only way to truly process these emotions is to connect with a compassionate person who supports and validates.

  18. This is an amazing advice..didnt expect it from the comedian guy(love him tho)very spiritualy deep&wise!Much love to all💞

  19. Fantastic. This "multiple selves" aspect is a key part of Amy Alkon's science-help book Unf*ckology. A great read.

  20. What about being depressed about having chronic illnesses which are making it harder and harder to function? That is an unfortunate reality.

  21. Next level dissociation there. Trauma and suffering aren't who you are. It's what is happening to YOU…so maybe that's what you were trying to say?

  22. Came here to say very happy Pete prefaced this with saying talkimg about and around depression with someone in a depressive episode is unhelpful and often patronizing. Do like Pete said. Be supportive and take them out for noodles.

    Also, Pete’s podcast is excellent and I hope he makes his way back to a talkshow that is conversation based.

  23. Why do we care about the past and the future? Our imaginations and consciousness can imagine things once were and will be and we extend our values to any point in time. It is why we feel sad and horrified by tragedies like the holocaust, plane crashes, and any death. It is because we all hopefully keep on enjoying the gift of life and consciousness. Maybe a soul forms over time as we become more aware of the world and love around us.

  24. I always described my depression like this: there are 2 versions of me – one who's in the room with everybody, the other is outside the window. The guy inside is the one everybody sees – it's the version of me that influences and creates their perception of who I am. The guy outside is the real me. He's banging on the window, trying to tell the one inside that he doesn't need to be that way. That it's not who he is and he should stop. But the guy inside can't hear. He carries on as he has been. And the me who's outside feels like he'll never be heard or be able to fix it. But that whole realisation can be key to dealing with it all – taking a step back, looking at it and understanding that depression is not who you are. It's an affliction that does not define you. You may not realise it, but admitting that you suffer from it is actually a huge step in getting to grips with the condition, and never blaming yourself for it. You are recognising that it is a thing that HAPPENS to you – that it came from the outside, not the inside. You weren't born with it, it's not a part of you, and you CAN fight it.

    So I totally get what Holmes is saying here.

  25. Great take on the subject Pete and thank you for sharing. I differ some on the thought controlling the feeling. I believe it is more so the feeling at least initializing the thought and bringing it to the forefront of our conscioisness for is to react. Our body speaks to is. Whether it be sleep, eating or emotional and spiritual recharging. It is our job to listen. We would not let our bodies go without food or sleep. So why should we let it go without recharging our being as a whole???… Not debating or nothin. Just sharin my take on it from my own personal experience.

  26. Is this a first world problem? I mean, way too many things and way too many unregulated choices in our lives contribute to our depression?

  27. It's the practice of not being held hostage by your thoughts and emotions – not feeling the need to chase after them or be dragged around by them. Be the observer. I very much like the way Pete Holmes describes it here as well. Great video.

  28. I have a very hard time coming to grips with the possibility that Pete Holmes has ever been depressed.
    He seems like he would make Mister Rogers say, "Dude, you're just TOO happy…"

  29. Antidepressants aka ssri's cause suicidal ideation and violence. Fact. Proven by their makers. 2-5 % of people in recovery don't relapse. Antidepressants aka ssri's are deadly without alcohol. Antidepressants aka ssri's are addictive to 1/3 who take them. Antidepressants aka ssri's are proven by their makers to be placibo. (They got sued for hiding that). So…yake your placebo that causes suicidal ideation and violence…oh…and buy a gun to play with because that's your right within current law…to pack on pills.

  30. Disassociation is a tool that can be valid even for those with clinical (not temporary) depression – read: my case.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *