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15 Celebrities Who Struggle With Anxiety and Depression
By nature, the fight against anxiety and depression can be a lonely one. When you’re in the middle of it, you can feel utterly alone. So it can be comforting, even lifesaving, to be reminded that you’re not alone and that some of our most successful and well-known celebrities, athletes and politicians are among the estimated 350 million people worldwide who suffer from and have learned to live with their depression. Here are celebrities -- from network TV stars to pop queens to top-selling authors -- who have shared their struggles and their strategies to overcome depression and anxiety in the hopes of helping others feel a little less isolated in their own battles.
1. Michelle Williams
After revealing her decades-long struggle with depression during an appearance on “The Talk” last year, former Destiny’s Child member Michelle Williams has decided to seek professional help. “For years I have dedicated myself to increasing awareness of mental health and empowering people to recognize when it’s time to seek help, support and guidance from those that love and care for your wellbeing,” the singer wrote in a recent Instagram post. “I recently listened to the same advice I have given thousands around the world and sought help from a great team of healthcare professionals.” According to TMZ, Williams checked into a mental health treatment facility outside of Los Angeles mid-July. “Today I proudly, happily and healthily stand here as someone who will continue to always lead by example as I tirelessly advocate for the betterment of those in need,” Williams continued. “If you change your mind, you can change your life.”
2. Ariana Grande
Ariana Grande has largely stayed silent about the impact the 2017 Manchester bombing has had on her mental health. “It's hard to talk about because so many people have suffered such severe, tremendous loss,” she told British Vogue last month. “I feel like I shouldn't even be talking about my own experience – like I shouldn't even say anything.” Now, the 25-year-old popnstar is opening up about her experience with post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. "I would be in a good mood, fine and happy, and they would hit me out of nowhere,” she explained in an interview for Elle’s August 2018 cover story. “I've always had anxiety, but it had never been physical before. There were a couple of months straight where I felt so upside down.” Grande proves that even though she didn’t suffer any physical damage and may not be as emotionally hurt as others affected by the attack, her struggle with mental illness is real and valid.
3. Lena Headey
On a recent episode of Running Wild with Bear Grylls, the "Game of Thrones" actress discussed her battle with depression, stating that "I just feel like if you don't share and you don't connect, you're just causing more isolation, and that's a really bad thing for all of us."
This isn't the first time Headey has been open about her struggles. In 2017, she revealed her postpartum depression diagnosis with digital mag The EDIT, saying "I did the first year [on "Game of Thrones"] in that space, figuring out motherhood and going through a weird time personally 1. It was tricky."
4. Kendall Jenner
Jenner recently opened up to Vogue about her struggles with anxiety. After working continuously for three and a half years, the highest-paid model in the world found herself suffering from debilitating anxiety and intense neck pain. "I made it a point at the beginning of 2017 to consciously slow down, take more time for myself, be more selective and not just do whatever my agents tell me to do," she told Vogue about her decision to tackle her anxiety. The most helpful form of medicine? Going back to her old love of horseback riding. "I did this my whole life — it was my life," Jenner said. "This is what makes me really happy."
Read more: 12 Ways to Get Your Mojo Back
5. Marie Osmond
Depression doesn’t age discriminate, and some people don’t experience it until later in life. Such is the case with Marie Osmond, America’s beloved little sister, who at 40 was faced with a crippling case of post-partum depression that followed the birth of her seventh child. In the midst of launching a talk show with her brother and used to calling the shots, Osmond suddenly found herself collapsed in a puddle of tears on her kitchen floor, unable to cope. “This couldn’t be me, collapsing in hysteria, not even recognizing my own wails,” Osmond wrote in her 2008 book, “Behind the Smile: My Journey Out of Postpartum Depression.” “This was not me, shaken to the core, sliding into a despair of the deepest kind.” When antidepressants didn’t work, Osmond found her way out of the darkness with a combination of acupuncture, diet and hormone treatments 1. “This is a physical thing that is fixable,” Osmond says. “I know: I’m a survivor. Believe me, there was no way I thought I could survive. There are answers out there that need to be found.”
6. Jared Padalecki
While shooting the third season of his long-running sci-fi show “Supernatural,” former “Gilmore Girls” actor Jared Padalecki found himself in the middle of an emotional breakdown. A doctor came to his trailer and, after 45 minutes of talking to him, delivered shocking news: Padalecki was suffering from clinical depression. “It kind of hit me like a sack of bricks,” the actor told Variety in 2015. “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.” Earlier this year, Padalecki launched the Always Keep Fighting T-shirt campaign to help individuals struggling with depression and suicide 2. “There’s no shame in dealing with these things,” says the actor. “There’s no shame in having to fight every day.”
7. Drew Carey
Comedian turned “The Price Is Right” host has been open about his depression battles for years, revealing in 2007 that it had gotten so bad in the past that he had attempted suicide twice before his late 20s. Because of his day job, he found it difficult to ask for help. “Living in Hollywood…you can feel like you’re the only one,” he says. “You hold it in and you don’t let it go and you don’t try to find help because you think, ‘Oh man, if I tell anybody, I’m going to seem like I’m weak. I won’t get a movie deal!’” He credits self-belief and setting goals with helping him to overcome it, and he read every self-help book he got his hands on. “I read that stuff all the time,” says Carey. “I am always coming out bigger, better, stronger and happier.”
8. Emma Thompson
The Oscar winner says her first bout with clinical depression struck her at the most inopportune time: during a 15-month run in the London revival of the impossibly cheery musical “Me and My Girl” in the mid-1980s. “I thought that if I did the [expletive] Lambeth Walk one more time, I was going to [expletive] throw up,” she told The Daily Mail in 2014. Her depression flared up again following the very public breakup with first husband Kenneth Branagh. She credits writing the screenplay for “Sense and Sensibility,” which would later lead to an Academy Award, as helping to save her -- not that she necessarily recommends it. “I used to crawl from the bedroom to the computer and just sit and write, and then I was alright, because I was not present,” Thompson told Radio 4 in 2010. “‘Sense and Sensibility’ really saved me from going under, I think, in a very nasty way.”
9. Billy Joel
A depression that had lain dormant in the singer for years was triggered in 2001 and lead to well-reported incidents of drinking and erratic behavior. “I was in New York on 9/11, and it had a devastating impact on me,” he says. “It hit me like a ton of bricks,” Joel told the Telegraph in 2013. “I went into a deep depression and started drinking. I lost faith in humanity.” He checked into rehab in 2015 to help with the excessive drinking and looks outward for help in his ongoing struggle with depression. A favorite inspiration? Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai. “She is the antidote,” says the “Piano Man” singer. “We need people like that.”
Read more: 9 Scary Side Effects of Social Drinking
10. Catherine Zeta-Jones
Few people, famous or otherwise, have been more open about their struggles with bipolar disorder than the Oscar-winning “Chicago” actress. While she has been privately coping with her bipolar II disorder for most of her life, symptoms of the disorder flared up following her husband Michael Douglas’ cancer diagnosis in 2010, and she decided to go public. “It wasn’t something I wanted to shout from the rooftops,” the actress, who regularly seeks treatment to stay on top of her disorder, told the Telegraph in 2013. “But when it did come to light, I know I’m not the only person who suffers with it or has to deal with it on a day-to-day basis. So if I’ve helped anybody by discussing bipolar or depression, that’s great.”
11. Buzz Aldrin
After returning from his famous voyage to the moon, Aldrin returned to earth with a depression that fueled his alcoholism 6. “I was experiencing a melancholy of things done,” Aldrin told Psychology Today in 2001. “I really had no future plans after returning from the moon. So I had to reexamine my life.” He gave up drinking in 1977 and considers maintaining his sobriety his most impressive accomplishment. “[It] was probably one of my greatest challenges,” says Aldrin, who in addition to sobriety, dedicated himself to service as the chairperson for the National Mental Health Association. “But it has also been one of the most satisfying because it has given me a sense of comfort and ease with where I am now.”
Read more: 10 Things Men Should Tell Their Doctors
12. Joey Votto
Admitting depression can be challenging for anyone, but perhaps most profoundly for professional athletes, who have been trained to hide perceived weakness. That makes it all the more inspiring that Votto, former National League MVP and a perennial All-Star first baseman for the Cincinnati Reds, has been so open about the debilitating depression triggered by his father’s sudden death in 2008. The following season, he was regularly put on injured reserve for his anxiety before eventually getting time away from the game and open up to himself, his doctors and his family. That made all the difference. “I really hadn’t acknowledged how important it is to express the things I had been dealing with on the inside,” Votto told ESPN in 2009. After getting help for himself, Votto briefly opened a foundation in his hometown of Toronto to help veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Says Votto, “I cannot relate to what the military members experienced, but I can say I have experienced some physiological symptoms similar to what they experienced.”
13. Lady Gaga
Moved by her fans’ struggles with identity, depression and suicide, the pop star came forward with her own struggles with depression. “I’ve suffered through depression and anxiety my entire life,” Gaga told Billboard in early 2015 8. “I still suffer with it every single day.” As a way to help her fans and keep herself on point, the singer started the Born This Way Foundation to focus on the type of youth mental health and emotional intelligence issues that she once struggled with and some of her fans still do. “As I began to care for them and to see myself in them, I felt I had to do something that would remind kids they’re not alone,” says Gaga. “When they feel isolated, that’s when it leads to suicide.”
14. JK Rowling
Long before creating the most beloved fictional world of modern times, Rowling was a poor, single mother living in Scotland and struggling with depression. “Clinical depression is a terrible place to be,” the Harry Potter creator told Oprah in 2010. “[While] I had tendencies toward depression from quite young, it became really acute when I was 23 to 28. It is that absence of feeling.” Inspired by her newborn daughter and an idea for a series of books, she pulled herself out of a spiral that nearly engulfed her. “I was still alive. I still had a daughter whom I adored. And I had an old typewriter and a big idea, and so rock-bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt by life,” Rowling told graduates at Harvard’s commencement in 2008. “It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all.”
Read more: 10 Bad Habits to Ditch for a Happier You
15. Renee Russo
A lifelong sufferer of bipolar disorder, the “Get Shorty” actress revealed her diagnosis in 2014. She wanted to share her story as a show of support for people who, like her, manage their condition with the help of medication. It’s a situation that tends to cause stigma but shouldn’t. Russo said in 2014, “For all the people that are having trouble and feel bad about taking medication, I have to say…it’s OK, you will make it through. It’s not easy, but you will make it through.”
Read more: 5 Myths About Mental Illness
What Do YOU Think?
Have you ever struggled with anxiety or depression? What have you done to get help? Were you aware of any of these celebs and their own struggles with anxiety and depression? Does it help encourage you in your recovery? Do you see them as an inspiration in any way? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments section below. And remember, you are never alone in your struggle.
- Behind the Smile: My Journey out of Postpartum Depression
- ‘Supernatural’ Star Jared Padalecki Talks Depression and Why You Should ‘Always Keep Fighting’
- Why Emma Thompson’s utterly terrified: As she prepares for her first London musical in 30 years, the Oscar-winner reveals she’s sick with nerves — and how singing left her clinically depressed
- Billy Joel: 'I Opened up my soul. What else do you want?'
- Catherine Zeta Jones: 'I torture my husband'
- Buzz Aldrin: Down to Earth
- Votto activated from DL for Reds-Jays
- Billboard Cover: Lady Gaga Gets Personal About Saving Troubled Teens -- 'I've Suffered Through Depression and Anxiety My Whole Life'