Celebrities Who Have Opened Up About Their Struggles With Mental Health
Mental health is a hot topic right now. The more that celebrities and public figures are open about their own struggles, the more they can help to destigmatize mental illness. People may be more willing to seek psychiatric help if they know that Kendall Jenner also sees a shrink, or Chrissy Teigen is also on antidepressants.
It can take a lot of courage to open up about personal struggles in public, but these celebs have courage in spades.
Kendall Jenner discussed her battle with anxiety during an interview with Cara Delevingne: “I have such debilitating anxiety because of everything going on that I literally wake up in the middle of the night with full-on panic attacks… Where do I even start? Everything is so horrible, it’s hard to name one thing. I just think that the world needs so much love.”
“I wish I had the power to send Cupid around the planet, as cheesy as that sounds. You go online and you see everyone saying the worst things to each other, and it’s hard to stay positive. It’s hard not to get eaten alive by all the negativity.”
Adele opened up to Vanity Fair about how she dealt with depression after her son was born: “I can slip in and out of [depression] quite easily. I had really bad postpartum depression after I had my son, and it frightened me,” she said.
“I didn’t talk to anyone about it. I was very reluctant…Four of my friends felt the same way I did, and everyone was too embarrassed to talk about it.”
Anxiety can affect everybody, whether you’re a big star or not. Ryan Reynolds told Variety, “I never, ever slept. Or I was sleeping at a perfect right angle — just sitting straight, constantly working at the same time.”
He also talked about the anxiety he experienced while filming Deadpool. “By the time we were in post [production], we’d been to Comic-Con, and people went crazy for it. The expectations were eating me alive.”
Chrissy described her struggle with depression in an essay she wrote for Glamour: “I also just didn’t think it could happen to me. I have a great life. I have all the help I could need: John, my mother (who lives with us), a nanny.”
“But postpartum does not discriminate. I couldn’t control it. And that’s part of the reason it took me so long to speak up: I felt selfish, icky, and weird saying aloud that I’m struggling. Sometimes I still do.”
Even Beyoncé needs to take a break to focus on her mental health every now and again.
She told The Sun, “It was beginning to get fuzzy―I couldn’t even tell which day or which city I was at. I would sit there at ceremonies and they would give me an award and I was just thinking about the next performance. My mother was very persistent and she kept saying that I had to take care of my mental health.”
Another Destiny’s Child member has also dealt with mental illness. Williams said, “when I disclosed it to our manager at the time, bless his heart, he was like, ‘Y’all just signed a multimillion-dollar deal and you’re about to go on tour. What do you have to be depressed about?’ So I was like, ‘Oh, maybe I’m just tired.’
I was to that place where it got so dark and heavy, because sometimes you feel like, ‘I’m the provider, I take care of people. I’m not supposed to be feeling this way. What do I do?’ And I wanted out.”
Miley Cyrus told ELLE, “[Depression is] more of an issue than people really want to talk about. Because people don’t know how to talk about being depressed—that it’s totally okay to feel sad. I went through a time where I was really depressed. Like, I locked myself in my room and my dad had to break my door down. It was a lot to do with, like, I had really bad skin, and I felt really bullied because of that.
But I never was depressed because of the way someone else made me feel, I just was depressed, and every person can benefit from talking to somebody. I’m the most anti-medication person, but some people need medicine, and there was a time where I needed some too. So many people look at [my depression] as me being ungrateful, but that is not it—I can’t help it. There’s not much that I’m closed off about, and the universe gave me all that so I could help people feel like they don’t have to be something they’re not.”
Lena Dunham has been very vocal about her struggle with OCD. She often talks about mental health on Instagram and Twitter. On Instagram, she wrote, “Promised myself I would not let exercise be the first thing to go by the wayside when I got busy with Girls Season 5 and here is why:”
“it has helped me with my anxiety in ways I’ve never dreamed possible. To those struggling with anxiety, OCD, depression: I know it’s mad annoying when people tell you to exercise, and it took me about 16 medicated years to listen. I’m glad I did. It ain’t about the ass, it’s about the brain.”
Dakota Johnson has been open about her battle with anxiety. She often talks about it in the press and on social media.
Recently, she said, “sometimes I panic to the point where I don’t know what I’m thinking or doing. I have a full anxiety attack….I have them all the time anyway, but with auditioning it’s bad. I’m so terrified of it.” Luckily, Dakota has been able to get through auditions in spite of her illness.
Demi Lovato actually spoke at the National Council for Behavioral Health in Washington DC. While she was there she said, “I think it’s important that people no longer look at mental illness as something taboo to talk about. It’s something that’s extremely common, one in five adults has a mental illness, so basically everyone is essentially connected to this problem and this epidemic.”
“The problem with mental illness is people don’t look at it as a physical illness. When you think about it, the brain is actually the most complex organ in your body. We need to treat it like a physical illness and take it seriously.”
Emma Stone told the Wall Street Journal, “The first time I had a panic attack I was sitting in my friend’s house, and I thought the house was burning down. I called my mom and she brought me home, and for the next three years it just would not stop.”
“I would ask my mom to tell me exactly how the day was going to be, then ask again 30 seconds later. I just needed to know that no one was going to die and nothing was going to change.”
Gina Rodriguez opened up about her anxiety on Instagram: “I suffer from anxiety. And watching this clip I could see how anxious I was but I empathize with myself. I wanted to protect her and tell her it’s ok to be anxious, there is nothing different or strange about having anxiety and I will prevail.”
“I like watching this video. It makes me uncomfortable but there is a freedom I feel maybe even an acceptance. This is me. Puro Gina.”
Carrie Fisher dealt with a whole bunch of issues in her lifetime. She was very open about her struggle with alcoholism and mental illness. “I have a chemical imbalance that, in its most extreme state, will lead me to a mental hospital,” Carrie told Diane Sawyer.
“I used to think I was a drug addict, pure and simple — just someone who could not stop taking drugs willfully. And I was that. But it turns out that I am severely manic depressive. You can’t stop. It’s very painful. It’s raw. You know, it’s rough… your bones burn… when you’re not busy talking and trying to drown it out.”
Ellen Degeneres seems super upbeat all the time, but that doesn’t mean that she’s never struggled with depression.
“When I walked out of the studio after five years of working so hard, knowing I had been treated so disrespectfully for no other reason than I was gay, I just went into this deep, deep depression. It’s so corny but it’s true. You have no idea where the darkest times of your life might end, so you have to just keep going,” she explained.
“I, for a long time, have been passionate about people dealing with mental illness and struggling with depression, or addiction, or having suicidal thoughts and, strangely enough, it’s almost like the life I live, as well,” he told Variety.
“I was 25 years old. I had my own TV show. I had dogs that I loved and tons of friends and I was getting adoration from fans and I was happy with my work, but I couldn’t figure out what it was; it doesn’t always make sense is my point. It’s not just people who can’t find a job, or can’t fit in society that struggle with depression sometimes.”
Dwayne Johnson opened up about mental health on YouTube of all places. He said, “I found that, with depression, one of the most important things you could realize is that you’re not alone.
You’re not the first to go through it; you’re not going to be the last to go through it. And oftentimes—it happens—you just feel like you’re alone. You feel like it’s only you. You’re in your bubble. And I wish I had someone at that time who could just pull me aside and [say], ‘Hey, it’s gonna be OK. It’ll be OK.’ So, I wish I knew that.”
Lili Reinhart told W Magazine, “I had so much anxiety booking work, and I spent almost five months holed up in this bedroom in this house just feeling anxious, waiting for my next audition, and not doing anything else. It was the most miserable time of my life.”
“I had had to quit a few jobs in North Carolina because of how anxious they made me. My anxiety was so bad that I had to keep quitting jobs because I physically could not work…I threw up in my Uber because, one, I was carsick, and two, I was having a panic attack. I get home, lock the door in my room, immediately Skype my mom and said, ‘Mom, I’m not okay.’ I felt like my world was crashing. I didn’t want to admit defeat, but I was like, ‘I need to come home. My mental health is suffering, and it is making me physically ill.'”
It seems like Nicki Minaj has it all, but even she has struggled with her mental health at different points in her life.
She talked about how she felt when she was depressed and contemplating suicide: “It was just one dead end after another. At one point, I was, like, ‘What would happen if I just didn’t wake up?’ That’s how I felt. Like, ‘Maybe I should just take my life?'”
“I’m on Lexapro, and I’ll never get off of it,” Amanda Seyfried told Allure.
“I’ve been on it since I was 19, so 11 years. I’m on the lowest dose. I don’t see the point of getting off of it. Whether it’s placebo or not, I don’t want to risk it. And what are you fighting against? Just the stigma of using a tool? A mental illness is a thing that people cast in a different category [from other illnesses], but I don’t think it is. It should be taken as seriously as anything else. You don’t see the mental illness: It’s not a mass; it’s not a cyst. But it’s there. Why do you need to prove it? If you can treat it, you treat it.”
“When my career took off, I don’t remember anything at all. It’s like I’m traumatized. I needed time to recalibrate my soul,” Lady Gaga explained in an interview.
“I definitely look after my well-being…I openly admit to having battled depression and anxiety and I think a lot of people do. I think it’s better when we all say: ‘Cheers!’ and ‘fess up to it.'” Lady Gaga spoke a lot about her health in her documentary, Five Foot Two.
Winona Ryder has struggled to deal with her mental health in the public eye. As she continues to be featured, she has become an outspoken example of how important psychiatric treatment can be.
“You can’t pay enough money to cure that feeling of being broken and confused. It’s not like every day’s been great ever since,” she explained. “You have good days and bad days, and depression’s something that, y’know, is always with you.”
Olivia Munn told Self, “OCD comes from a place of needing to feel safe… I had it growing up, having had a little bit of a tumultuous upbringing, moving around a lot with a mixed family with five kids.”
Munn opened up about her struggle with trichotillomania in the article, which is the compulsion to pull out your own hair. It’s a form of OCD and it can be really difficult to treat.
Ellie wrote an essay for Well+Good in which she spoke about having anxiety:
“I started having panic attacks, and the scariest part was it could be triggered by anything. I used to cover my face with a pillow whenever I had to walk outside from the car to the studio. My new life as a pop star certainly wasn’t as glamorous as all my friends from home thought. Secretly, I was really struggling physically and emotionally.”
A lot of the darker moments in the Harry Potter series were influenced by J.K. Rowling’s own struggle with depression. She’s said that the dementors are basically depression incarnate.
When she was on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Rowling told Oprah, “It’s so difficult to describe [depression] to someone who’s never been there, because it’s not sadness, but it’s that cold absence of feeling — that really hollowed-out feeling.” We’re glad she’s feeling better now.
“I’ve discovered that anxiety, panic attacks and depression can be side effects of lupus, which can present their own challenges,” Selena told People.
“I want to be proactive and focus on maintaining my health and happiness and have decided that the best way forward is to take some time off […] I know I am not alone by sharing this, I hope others will be encouraged to address their own issues.”
“People use ‘panic attack’ very casually out here in Los Angeles,” Sarah Silverman told Glamour. “But I don’t think most of them really know what it is. Every breath is labored. You are dying. You are going to die. It’s terrifying. And then when the attack is over, the depression is still there…I wouldn’t wish depression on anyone.”
“But if you ever experience it, or are experiencing it right now, just know that on the other side, the little joys in life will be that much sweeter. The tough times, the days when you’re just a ball on the floor they’ll pass. You’re playing the long game and life is totally worth it.”
Zayn Malik wrote a book about his life that includes a few chapters about mental health. He wrote, “I found it really frustrating that, even now that I was being upfront about what the issue was, some people still found reasons to doubt it. But that’s the industry. It’s an aspect of this job that I have to deal with, and I’m trying to accept it.”
“The thing is, I love performing. I love the buzz. I don’t want to do any other job. That’s why my anxiety is so upsetting and difficult to explain. It’s this thing that swells up and blocks out your rational thought processes. Even when you know you want to do something, know that it will be good for you, that you’ll enjoy it when you’re doing it, the anxiety is telling you a different story. It’s a constant battle within yourself.”
Kristen Bell wrote an essay for Motto all about how she deals with mental illness. In the essay, she wrote, “There’s nothing weak about struggling with mental illness. For me, depression is not sadness. It’s not having a bad day and needing a hug. It gave me a complete and utter sense of isolation and loneliness.”
“Its debilitation was all-consuming, and it shut down my mental circuit board. I felt worthless, like I had nothing to offer, like I was a failure. Now, after seeking help, I can see that those thoughts, of course, couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s important for me to be candid about this so people in a similar situation can realize that they are not worthless and that they do have something to offer. We all do.”
Mental health has been a hot issue recently, so Glamour magazine has been asking about it a lot. When they asked Kerry Washington about mental health, she answered,
“I say that publicly because I think it’s really important to take the stigma away from mental health. My brain and my heart are really important to me. I don’t know why I wouldn’t seek help to have those things be as healthy as my teeth. I go to the dentist. So why wouldn’t I go to a shrink?”
Gwyneth Paltrow told Good Housekeeping, “I felt like a zombie. I couldn’t access my heart. I couldn’t access my emotions. I couldn’t connect. I thought postpartum depression meant you were sobbing every single day and incapable of looking after a child,” she explains.
“But there are different shades of it and depths of it, which is why I think it’s so important for women to talk about it. It was a trying time. I felt like a failure.”