7 Easily Missed Signs of Anthony Bourdain’s Depression

Anthony Bourdain, food culture enthusiast, writer, and former chef, was in his early 60s when he died. Those who knew him never expected to lose him so suddenly. But there may have been signs the celebrity was dealing with more trauma than he admitted.

One friend said he knew he needed to get help, but may not have taken an important step in doing so. Learn the story behind his doctor’s visit (page 6) — plus, the Parts Unknown episode that should have warned the world he wasn’t well (page 7).

1. He was no stranger to addiction

The (RED) Supper hosted by Mario Batali with Anthony Bourdain

He struggled with drinking and drugs. | Mike Coppola/Getty Images

  • He once admitted it got so bad he was surprised it didn’t kill him.

Bourdain once lived with an opioid addiction. His drug use began when he was a teenager, and got progressively more dangerous within the first decade.

He also admitted that the end of his marriage left him feeling depressed. The event also prompted him to drink heavily and use other drugs.

Next: A possible diagnosis could have put others on high alert.

2. He may have had a personality disorder

Did his desire to be on TV point to a serious issue? | Anthony Bourdain via Instagram

  • People with this diagnosis are more likely to experience mental health issues.

Bourdain apparently worried that he might have narcissistic personality disorder. He admitted, “A reasonable person does not believe that you are so interesting that people will watch you on television. I think this is evidence of a narcissistic personality disorder.”

A professional diagnosis might have alerted him — or others — to an increased risk of severe depression. Mayo Clinic lists depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts or behaviors as possible complications of the disorder.

Next: His friends may have recognized something was wrong days before it happened.

3. He seemed to be in a ‘dark mood’

Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert

Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert in happier times.| Robin Marchant/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

  • Those who were with him days before his death noticed his mood had shifted.

Eric Ripert, a French chef and friend of Bourdain, noticed the man’s mood change in the days before he died. They were in France filming Parts Unknown.

He told Bourdain’s mother that her soon had seemed to be in a “dark mood” lately. Though exhausted, it apparently wasn’t like Bourdain to appear so severely worn down.

Next: His friends also noticed this subtle but important difference.

4. He was always tired

Anthony Bourdain in Bali

He seemed to be run down in recent months. | Anthony Bourdain via Instagram

  • Fatigue might be normal for someone in his profession, but this was different.

It wouldn’t surprise anyone who knew Bourdain to hear he worked hard. But near the end of his life, he apparently took things to the extreme.

A source told People, “ His travel schedule was grueling, and he often seemed quite beat-up from it, as anyone would be. He’d put everything into the shoots and then go back to his room to ­isolate.”

Next: He may have done this to avoid his thoughts and feelings.

5. He kept up a busy schedule

He kept up with public appearances. | Dylan Rives/Getty Images for Food Network SoBe Wine & Food Festival

  • His friends and crew said he kept busy — but maybe that was a clue.

Bourdain kept himself on a busy schedule while filming his show in France. This seemingly normal habit could have been a sign he wasn’t doing well.

Not everyone living with depression seems visibly unwell. It’s not uncommon for someone dealing with mental health issues to keep busy to avoid emotional distress.

Next: A close friend said he once tried doing this.

6. He asked for professional help

Rose McGowan at the New York Film Festival in 2015

Rose McGowan said that he sought help. | Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images

  • A friend said he did his best to get the help he needed.

Rose McGowan was one of Bourdain’s long-time friends. In a public letter, she shared that he did try to take steps to get professional help before he died.

“I know before Anthony died he reached out for help, and yet he did not take the doctor’s advice,” she wrote. “And that has led us here, to this tragedy, to this loss, to this world of hurt.”

Next: He made his experiences with depression public in a surprising way.

7. He talked about depression on his show

Anthony Bourdain rodeo

He would fall into depressions that would last for days. | Anthony Bourdain via Instagram

  • He spoke with a therapist on a 2016 episode of Parts Unknown.

Bourdain met with a therapist while filming an episode of his show in Argentina. He admitted he needed “somebody to talk to.”

He told the therapist, “I will find myself in an airport, for instance, and I’ll order an airport hamburger … but it’s not a good one. Suddenly I look at the hamburger and I find myself in a spiral of depression that can last for days.”

How to get help: In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or text HOME to 741-741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor at the free Crisis Text Line.

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