McKagan, who has been open about his struggles with alcohol and drug addiction, reveals he's also suffered from panic attacks since he was a teenager and has had bouts of depression over the last few years.
In a new interview with Chris Jericho on the Talk Is Jericho podcast, McKagan talks about a panic attack he suffered a few years ago while he was at the movies with his wife. He recalls feeling like his seat had literally sunk into the floor.
"I looked around; I thought something happened to the theater, like there was an earthquake," he says. "But no, I had like an attack of depression. Just a feeling of moroseness. I couldn't live like that. We got out the theater; I'm shaking. It's hard to explain what it felt like."
McKagan said his wife rushed him home, where he got on the phone with a friend.
"It was depression, and it passed, and then I went and saw some people about it. I had a couple more of those episodes."
He says that he learned at a young age that a panic attack is fleeting and that, even though in the midst of one he might think he's going to die, he knows he'll make it.
But McKagan says the idea of suffering like that for an extended period of time—days, weeks, months—would be unbearable.
"If there was depression involved, then all bets are off. I'm not gonna judge them anyhow. I've been in and out of alcohol and drug addiction; I've got it all. I'm not one to judge...It's a real thing. When I sunk five feet down in that movie theater—I couldn't live like that. You couldn't
"You can't breathe, you can't eat, you know, all your body functions just go; you have no control. And I'm a strong dude...And I can see and deal with shit, bad shit and be a dad and be all these things...But when I had depression, I couldn't be any of those things. I couldn't be anything."
The bassist says he tries to turn difficult experiences like that into something positive that he can write about.
"Like okay, now I've experienced that. I wrote a column about depression because I know now about it. I don't have chronic depression, but I've had attacks."
Listen to the full episode here.
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