Drew Carey Gets Candid About Taking Care of His Mental Health, Says Therapy, Close Friends Help (Exclusive)

'The Price Is Right’ host tells PEOPLE how he manages his mental health and wellness

<p>Michael Bezjian/WireImage</p> Drew Carey in Hollywood, California, in December 2017

Michael Bezjian/WireImage

Drew Carey in Hollywood, California, in December 2017

For Drew Carey, achieving mental wellness has been a journey of adversity and enlightenment.

In an interview with PEOPLE, The Price Is Right  host, 65, spoke about his decades-long progress, aided by resources including therapy and a trusted circle of close friends.

“Therapy's been a big game changer for me,” he says in this week’s issue, adding, “I have a great therapist I can count on to talk to me, a couple of them, actually. And I have a crew of very close friends that I'm in. We always support each other. if anybody's having a down time, we always are there for them.”

Carey's mental health struggles started when he was in his teens. Facing what he says was depression, the comedian attempted to take his own life with sleeping pills at age 18, and again at 23.

Related: Why Drew Carey Initially Turned Down The Price Is Right Hosting Gig — and What Eventually Changed His Mind (Exclusive)

<p>U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Leah Moore</p> Drew Carey serving Thanksgiving meals to the crew assigned to USS George H.W. Bush in November 2023

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Leah Moore

Drew Carey serving Thanksgiving meals to the crew assigned to USS George H.W. Bush in November 2023

“If I was with my friends joking around, I’d be maniacally happy. Really high highs, really low lows,” says Carey, admitting that he drank a lot during his time at Kent State University. “I couldn't have picked a major. I couldn't have told you with certainty what I wanted to do with my life that a lot of people can. There were people that just knew what they wanted to do, and they needed the college degree as a step along the way to their life's path that they were sure of. There were a lot of people like that, and I was not one of them."

While Carey never earned his college degree, he certainly found his purpose. After a six-year stint in the Marine Corps. Reserve as a field radio operator — “I was really proud of being a Marine” — he scratched a longtime itch to try stand-up comedy.

His first big break came in 1991 on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. “It was like a religious experience,” he explains. “I was in a flow state. You can’t just stop and go, ‘Holy s---! Johnny Carson!’ I have to keep performing.”

Several cable specials and a role in the 1994 NBC sitcom The Good Life paved the way for The Drew Carey Show, which he co-created with writer Bruce Helford. He played a fictionalized version of himself who worked in the office of a Cleveland department store. Its 233 episodes were “the longest I’d ever had a job doing anything,” he says — until 2007, when he began hosting The Price Is Right, where he gave TV’s longest-running game show his own twist: a new set, logo and theme music.

Related: The Price Is Right's Drew Carey Reveals How Bob Barker's Calm 'Demeanor' Inspired His Approach to Hosting

<p>Greg Gayne/CBS via Getty</p> Drew Carey on 'The Price Is Right' in October 2019

Greg Gayne/CBS via Getty

Drew Carey on 'The Price Is Right' in October 2019

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At this point in his life, Carey knows his self-worth. And when dark thoughts cloud his mind, he knows to lean on his therapists and close friends.

“I have normal down days now, although I’ve got to be careful, because sometimes I do have suicidal thoughts if things get pretty bad,” he admits. “It gets pretty bad sometimes, but then I know that I have tools to get out of it. I remember talking to my therapist once about something I was really angry and stressed about, and she goes, ‘Well, you should be angry and distressed. There was a wrong thing that happened to you.’

It also helps that Carey has learned to be kinder to himself.

“I've learned to quit judging myself, because I feel bad that day or something happened,” he says. “I used to just think that I'm not allowed to feel that, and if I felt that, that was the end of the world. ‘Stop feeling that, can't feel that, it's wrong.’ I used to go through all those things. Now I'm just like, 'Oh, okay. This will work out.'"

For more on Drew Carey, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here

If you or someone you know needs mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

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