It’s easy to mistake celebrities as having it all, but behind the closed doors of those sprawling mansions, many of the world’s most famous people are hiding ongoing battles with severe depression. As it turns out, a lifestyle of money and fame does not automatically shield one from mental illness, and in some cases, it even exacerbates the feelings of sadness, loneliness, and anxiety that contribute to depression.
The 30 celebrities on this list are only a handful of those who have battled depression while living in the public eye. But by speaking out about their illnesses without shame, these famous people have shown that not only have they survived, they’re determined to make mental illness a normal topic of conversation for anyone suffering — famous or otherwise.
- Kristen Bell
- Jim Carrey
- Ellen Degeneres
- Cara Delevingne
- Johnny Depp
- Chris Evans
- Harrison Ford
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt
- Jon Hamm
- Anne Hathaway
- Angelina Jolie-Pitt
- Lady Gaga
- Hugh Laurie
- Demi Lovato
- Gwyneth Paltrow
- Dolly Parton
- Matthew Perry
- Michael Phelps
- Ryan Philippe
- Brad Pitt
- J.K. Rowling
- Brooke Shields
- Britney Spears
- Channing Tatum
- Emma Thompson
- Kerry Washington
- Owen Wilson
- Reese Witherspoon
- Catherine Zeta-Jones
- 20 Male Celebrities Speaking Out About Depression
- 5. Wentworth Miller
- 6. Brad Pitt
- 7. Jon Hamm
- 8. Kid Cudi
- 9. Ryan Philippe
- 10. Ryan Reynolds
- 11. Donald Glover
- 12. Shane Koyczan
- 13. Wayne Brady
- 14. Kendrick Lamar
- 15. Bruce Springsteen
- 16. Olly Murs
- 17. Demar DeRozen
- 18. Dan Reynolds
- 19. Kevin Love
- 20. Steve ‘Commando’ Willis
- 10 Famous People with Depression
- 1. Abraham Lincoln
- 2. Ellen DeGeneres
- 3. Dwayne Johnson
- 4. Lady Gaga
- 5. Buzz Aldrin
- 6. J.K. Rowling
- 7. Wayne Brady
- 8. Princess Diana
- 9. Michael Phelps
- 10. Kristen Bell
- 15 Celebrities Who Have Battled Depression and How They Have Coped
- 10 Famous People with Depression, Bipolar Disorder or Both
- 5 Famous People You Didn’t Know With Depression
Whether you identify Kristen Bell by her voice, her commercials, or her foul-mouthed “Bad Moms” one-liners, one thing you probably don’t identify her by is her serious battle with depression. In an interview on YouTube’s Off-Camera Show, Bell revealed that she has long taken medication for her depression and anxiety. But you won’t detect any shame in her confession. Bell’s mother and grandmother both experienced the same serotonin imbalance, so the actress learned early on that there is no shame in seeking help and taking medication. In Bell’s wise words, “You would never deny a diabetic his insulin, but for some reason when someone needs a serotonin inhibitor, they’re immediately âcrazy’ or something.”
Jim Carrey easily makes the short list of history’s most influential comedians, but in an interview with 60 Minutes, the funnyman shocked a lot of people when he acknowledged he has spent much of his life dealing with depression. After the second of his two failed marriages, Carrey sought the help of a psychiatrist who prescribed him Prozac. Though Carrey admits the antidepressant helped him out of an initial jam, he also realized that he couldn’t be one of those who stay on the drug forever. “I had to get off at a certain point,” said Carrey. “You need to get out of bed every day and say that life is good. That’s what I did, although at times it was very difficult for me.” Carrey credits a healthy diet and natural supplements for his improved mental health.
In 1998, shortly after she revealed that she was a lesbian, Ellen Degeneres’s popular sitcom was axed. “Everything that I ever feared happened to me,” Degeneres later recalled. “I lost my show. I’ve been attacked like hell. I went from making a lot of money on a sitcom to making no money. 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.” But the comedienne persevered, continuing in the industry, and ultimately finding acceptance and happiness with an Emmy-winning talk show and an unforgettable turn as a fish with amnesia in Pixar’s Finding Nemo franchise.
Fame and money definitely does not buy happiness — just ask Cara Delevingne. The London-born beauty was barely past puberty when she became one of the most sought-after supermodels in the world. By age 15, Delevingne was rich and famous, but was also hit with a “massive wave of depression, anxiety, and self-hatred.” An initial attempt at therapy and medication weren’t helpful, and Delevingne turned instead to harmful behavior like partying and drugs. In an interview with Vogue, Delevingne said, “I was packing my bags, and suddenly I just wanted to end it. I had a way, and it was right there in front of me. And I was like, I need to decide whether I love myself as much as I love the idea of death.” Amazingly, Delevingne credits the Outkast song “SpottieOttieDopaliscious” with pulling her out of her dark place. The song had played at the funeral of a close friend who had overdosed, and hearing it “felt like a warning from him.” Delevingne is now able to control her depression, and has continued a successful career in film and print.
Actor Johnny Depp may be a chameleon on screen, but watch him during any interview, and you’ll see only a man whose facial expressions, droopy posture, and mumbled words give away what was once a big secret: Depp suffers from severe anxiety. Indeed, the actor’s anxiety has been a major source of depression and unease, so much so that Depp has access to therapists at all times, even on film sets, who help advise him on how best to deal with his anxiety and keep it from dragging him into severe depression.
In his memoir, The Way I Am, Eminem goes into detail about his battle with depression more than a decade ago. Though the rapper grew up through tough circumstances, in 2006 he found himself reeling after the murder of his close friend and D12 member Proof. His continuously rocky relationship with his ex-wife wasn’t helping either. Eminem recalled, “I have never felt so much pain in my life. It was tough for me to even get out of bed and I had days when I couldn’t walk, let alone write a rhyme.”
As Captain America, he may not be scared of much. But as himself, actor Chris Evans has dealt with depression stemming from his debilitating anxiety. In an interview, Evans described the feelings that overwhelm him in the spotlight: “A red carpet lasts, what, 30 minutes, tops? But that to me is like 30 minutes of walking on hot coals. It’s not like a junket — junkets you sit in a room and they bring âem in. I can do that all day and not have a meltdown. But the premiere — that’s overwhelming. It’s the volume of it: You’re in the center of this thing. You can fight a whole army if they line up one at a time. But if they surround you, you’re f-ed.”
The actor famous for roles like Han Solo and Indiana Jones experienced feelings that fit the description of depression (though he’s never actually used the word) during his childhood and college years. A very shy child, Ford was repeatedly beaten up by his peers for years. Even in college he didn’t fit in, and as a result sunk into a slump that included sleeping long hours, missing classes, and struggling academically. Finally, he was expelled from school. Things didn’t turn around for Ford until his junior year of college, when he signed up for a drama class and began the journey of overcoming his shyness.
In 2001, after five years on the hit show 3rd Rock From the Sun, actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt left the show to focus on school. But almost immediately, the young actor fell into a deep depression, certain that his decision would ultimately be detrimental to his career. As he described to Details magazine, “I was scared and depressed for a while. Not that I had any reason to f-ing be depressed — I mean, I was going to college and everything. It was not like I was hungry.” Still, the feelings remained, and it wasn’t until Gordon-Levitt left school and returned to Hollywood that he was able to find the emotional balance he needed.
Celebrated actor Jon Hamm experienced his first bout of chronic depression at age 20, shortly after losing his father (his mother had already passed from stomach cancer 10 years earlier). Though Hamm believes the structured environment of work and college helped with his recovery, he also credits antidepressants and therapy with “changing his brain chemistry enough to think: âI want to get up in the morning. I don’t want to sleep until four in the afternoon.'” Though a decade letter, Hamm would find major fame as Mad Men’s Don Draper, it seems the Emmy and Golden Globe winner continues to deal with his battles. In May 2015, he checked himself into a 30-day rehabilitation program in Connecticut.
Anne Hathaway’s success has hardly slowed down since age 19, when she first found fame in Disney’s The Princess Diaries. But in a 2007 interview with Tatler magazine, Hathaway revealed that in the years before her big break, she suffered from depression and anxiety. During that time, Hathaway insists she was able to work through her anguish without assistance from medication. Thinking back to her troubled younger self, Hathaway has said, “I am sorry she was hurting for so long. It’s all so negatively narcissistic to be so consumed with self.”
Before she was an Oscar winner, U.N. Goodwill Ambassador, writer, director, and mother of six, Angelina Jolie-Pitt was a seriously depressed teenager. Jolie-Pitt, who has always been very open about her bouts with mental illness, has even revealed that her depression included cutting herself and hiring a hit man to kill her. Though things improved for the actress after finding Hollywood success and becoming a mother, Jolie-Pitt found herself engulfed in another depression in 2007, after losing her mother to cancer. This time, she took another route back to good health, accepting the lead role in the action flick “Wanted” in order to do “something physical” and get out of her own head. Jolie-Pitt stated, “I felt I was going into a very dark place, and I wasn’t capable of getting up in the morning, so I signed up for something that would force me to be active.”
Lady Gaga hasn’t been shy about too many things, least of all her long battle with mental illness. In a candid interview with Billboard, the pop star admitted, “I’ve suffered through depression and anxiety my entire life. I just want these kids to know thatâ¦” But as you might guess, the “Born This Way” artist has beaten her depression, and has said, “I learned that my sadness never destroyed what was great about me. You just have to go back to that greatness, find that one little light that’s left. I’m lucky I found one little glimmer stored away.” Today, Lady Gaga works hard as an advocate for mental health. Her Born This Way Foundation seeks to empower youth, inspire bravery, and provide resources for young people dealing with depression, severe anxiety, and even bullying.
Like his most famous character, Dr. Gregory House, Hugh Laurie has described himself as dark, brooding, and sarcastic. Even his good friend, actress Joely Richardson, has acknowledged that Laurie definitely has a “tortured” and “dark” side. Laurie may have inherited his depression from his mother, Patricia. The British actor’s depression started as a teenager, though it wasn’t until years later, after having an extra-marital affair, that he agreed to seek help and attend therapy. Laurie has found peace through his supportive family and his acting and music career. However, fans accusing him of being ungrateful have unfortunately caused him to become more hesitant to talk about his past issues and pain.
For a long time, actress and musician Demi Lovato didn’t have a name for her manic energy shifts and rapid mood swings, but after checking herself into a treatment facility in 2010 for “emotional and physical issues,” Lovato went public with her anorexia, bulimia, and bipolar disorder. “Looking back it all makes sense,” she told People magazine. “There were times when I was so manic, I was writing seven songs in one night and I’d be up until 5:30 in the morning.” Not only does Lovato have a new hit aptly titled “Confident,” but the star has become a serious advocate for mental health by remaining very open about her bipolar disorder.
After her daughter was born in 2004, Gwyneth Paltrow was fine, but two years later, after giving birth to her son, Paltrow felt “like a zombie.” The actress didn’t realize she was suffering from postpartum depression until it was suggested by her then-husband, Chris Martin of the band Coldplay. Paltrow has been very open about her bout with depression, describing on her popular blog how she was confronted with one of the darkest and most painfully debilitating chapters of her life. “I thought postpartum depression meant you were sobbing every single day and incapable of looking after a child,” she said, “but there are different shades and depths of it.”
Dolly Parton, the queen of country music, suffered from severe depression throughout the 1980s, even going so far as to contemplate suicide. Parton has recalled, “It was an awful time for me. Every day I thought, âI wish I had the nerve to kill myself.'” Looking back, Parton believes that most of her depression stemmed from menopause and the regret that she had never had children. Fortunately, Parton found comfort in the children of those around her, saying, “Maybe God didn’t want me to have kids so that everybody else’s kids could be mine.”
For more than 10 years, actor Matthew Perry made viewers howl with laughter as Chandler Bing on the hit show Friends. But while we were all laughing, Perry was battling severe depression that ultimately led to debilitating addiction issues. Perry, who calls his time on Friends the worst and loneliest years of his life, spent the better part of a decade in and out of rehab for depression, drinking, and opiates. It was only when his costars began to catch on, and the media began reporting his troubles, that Perry says he finally began his slow path to recovery. Today, Perry is clean, the star of a “The Odd Couple” reboot on NBC, and an advocate who helps other Hollywood addicts deal with their issues.
You may be surprised to hear that swimmer Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, went into the 2012 London games with “no self-confidence, no self-love.” As he told NBC Dateline, “I think the biggest thing was, I thought of myself as just a swimmer, and nobody else.” Phelps’s depression even caused him to push people who were important to him out of his life. Phelps recalled, “I was in the lowest place I’ve ever been. Honestly, I sort of, at one point, I just, I felt like I didn’t want to see another day. I felt like it should be over.” Phelps turned to substance abuse, and was arrested twice for DUIs before realizing he needed help. In October 2014, Phelps checked himself into a rehab clinic. Though he reported that he cried himself to sleep for the first several nights, Phelps left the program clean and began preparing for the now historic 2016 Rio games. Phelps credits rehab, his fiancee, and his new baby son for helping with his emotional turnaround.
Maybe it’s not so surprising that actor Ryan Philippe, who admits to having dealt with depression since childhood, is best known for the tormented characters he has portrayed in films like Cruel Intentions. Though Philippe has called himself an innately sad person who wishes he can “un-feel” his feelings of depression, he also says, “I’m way funnier than people know me to be. And it’s a dark humor, like a gallows humor. I think that’s where, if you do carry any of that sadness or depression, your humor does tend to be a little darker than most people.” In 2015, Philippe said he believes he has passed his depression to Ava, his 16-year old daughter with Reese Witherspoon. “I see it in my daughter,” he told Elle Magazine. “She has it, and I wish to hell she didn’t.”
During the 1990s, Brad Pitt was rising to fame in films like Fight Club and Interview With a Vampire. At the same time, he was sinking into a deep depression that left him irritated, isolated, and drawn to heavy marijuana use. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Pitt described his bout of depression as “one of the seasons or a semester.” He explained: “This semester I was majoring in depression. I was doing the same thing every night and numbing myself to sleep, the same routine. Couldn’t wait to get home and hide out. But that feeling of unease was growing and one night I just said, âThis is a waste.'” The ultimate feeling of unease finally came while on a trip to Casablanca, where realizations of extreme poverty shocked him into finally seeking help. Since then, Pitt has become one of the most recognizable names in the world, and he has been praised by various mental health organizations worldwide for his willingness to discuss his depression and lowest points.
J.K. Rowling’s life before Harry Potter is well known. Living in poverty, she was an unemployed single mother who spent her days writing in local cafes. But at the same time, she was also suffering from severe depression and battling suicidal thoughts. Shortly before beginning her famous series, Rowling even underwent cognitive behavior therapy in an attempt to improve her illness. Fortunately, Rowling is healthier and happier these days, but immortalized her bout with severe depression in Harry Potter. Her suicidal thoughts inspired the Dementors, terrifying creatures that feed off of the happiness of humans and wizards.
In 2003, Brooke Shields revealed that she had experienced a deep postpartum depression after giving birth to her eldest daughter, Rowan. Shields was one of the first celebrities to speak openly about postpartum depression, and even documented her journey in a 2005 bestseller called Down Came the Rain. The actress and former model admitted she had felt completely disconnected from her baby, and that the shame and guilt she felt led her towards suicidal thoughts. Once she realized her feelings of despair were tied to a biochemical shift in her body, Shields was able to seek the help she needed and has been an advocate ever since. Says Shields, “Once we admit that postpartum is a serious medical condition, then the treatment becomes more available and socially acceptable.”
A famous internet meme shows Britney Spears circa 1997, complete with shaved head and a crazed look upon her face, swinging an umbrella towards the window of a car. The meme is used to allude to one’s own stress: “If Britney Spears can survive 1997, I can survive .” Humorous as the picture of a crazed Britney may be, the photo is just one image of a rough time for the pop star. Dealing with both a public divorce and postpartum depression, Spears sunk into what she called her natural state: severe depression, frayed nerves, and debilitating social anxiety. The pop star checked into rehab that same year, and began taking Prozac regularly for the first time since it had been first been prescribed to her at age 18. Spears credits her two sons, a handful of loyal friends, and her Vegas residency for the improvement in her mental health.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, actor Channing Tatum described the depression that plagued him as a child. According to Tatum, his depression and pain stemmed from the fact he had been loaded up with drugs like Dexedrine and Adderall to help with learning disabilities like ADD and dyslexia. But instead of helping, Tatum describes feeling like a zombie: “It’s like coke, or crystal meth. The more you do, the less it works. For a time, it would work well. Then it worked less and my pain was more. I would go through wild bouts of depression, horrible comedowns. I understand why kids kill themselves. I absolutely do.” Tatum’s emotional state improved so much when he stopped taking medication that he has passionately vowed he will never medicate his daughter, Everly.
According to British actress and screenwriter Emma Thompson, depression is “fantastically common, and it’s a very much hidden thing people don’t talk about. I think it should be discussed.” Thompson herself has confessed to suffering “occasional mild depression.” Though she suffered her first bout after her divorce from Kenneth Branagh, she says she unfortunately did not see a therapist at the time. Only when she experienced additional despair, this time after a failed in vitro attempt for a second child, did the Oscar winner deal with her depression with therapy and antidepressants. Since then, Thompson has continued to work, though she takes occasional sabbaticals to deal with her lingering depression.
Kerry Washington hasn’t been shy about her past battle with depression. In an interview with Essence magazine, she disclosed that much of her college experience revolved around a depression that including an “abusive relationship with food and exercise.” “I used food as a way to cope,” she said. “It was my best friend.” It was only when a dance teacher intervened that Washington began what would become years of therapy, and was finally able to end her routine of “eat, pass out, exercise for hours, feel guilty.” More recently, Washington has worked closely with figures like Michelle Obama and Sarah Jessica Parker to call attention to the issue of depression, especially as it affects veterans. As she told Glamour magazine, “I think it’s really important to take the stigma away from mental health.”
In 2007, comedy mega-star Owen Wilson shocked even his closest friends when he attempted suicide at his California home. Though People magazine reported only 11 weeks later that Wilson had been upset about his breakup with actress Kate Hudson and had since “bounced back,” the actor took the opportunity to come clean about his years-long battle with depression and drug addiction. Wilson has since slowed his career to focus on his health, and credits antidepressants and his two young sons with keeping him grounded.
Reese Witherspoon insists she is definitely not “America’s Sweetheart,” as she is so often labeled. The actress married and became a mother in her early 20s, only to go through a messy divorce in 2007. Witherspoon admits that she had to battle hard to keep dark thoughts at bay during that time, and credits close friends with helping to lift her out of her depression. “â¦ came over, stood me up, put me in the shower, put my clothes on, took my kids to school, brought me dinner.” Fortunately, Witherspoon was eventually able to win her battle with depression, though it was not until her 30s that she discovered happiness and realized “You have to take responsibility for your own happiness.”
In 2011, less than a year after her husband Michael Douglas was diagnosed with throat cancer, actress Catherine Zeta-Jones checked herself into a Connecticut rehab facility and revealed that she suffers from bipolar II disorder. Unlike the better known bipolar I, bipolar II is often characterized by swings between depression and hypomania, often without the “up” of mania. After her release from rehab, the mother of two said, “I’m not the kind of person who likes to shout out my personal issues from the rooftops, but with my bipolar becoming public, I hope fellow sufferers will know it is completely controllable. I hope I can help remove any stigma attached to it, and that those who don’t have it under control will seek help with all that is available to treat it.”
20 Male Celebrities Speaking Out About Depression
Television and radio host, political commentator, and comedian
“Trevor Noah tells DJ Fresh about his battle with depression”
5. Wentworth Miller
Photo by Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons
“I would say what others have said: it gets better. One day, you’ll find your tribe. You just have to trust that people are out there waiting to love you and celebrate you for who you are…In the meantime, the reality is you might have to be your own tribe. You might have to be your own best friend. That’s not something they’re going to teach you in school. So start the work of loving yourself.”
Actor and screenwriter
“Attitudes Man of Year Supported by Virgin Holidays“
6. Brad Pitt
Photo by DoD News Features, Flickr
“I used to deal with depression, but I don’t now, not this decade – maybe last decade. But that’s also figuring out who you are. I see it as a great education, as one of the seasons or a semester – ‘This semester I was majoring in depression’.”
Actor and producer
“Brad Pitt: ‘I suffered depression’“
7. Jon Hamm
Photo by RTP, Flickr
“I struggled with chronic depression. I was in bad shape. I knew I had to get back in school and back in some kind of structured environment… I did do therapy and antidepressants for a brief period, which helped me. Which is what therapy does: it gives you another perspective when you are so lost in your own spiral, your own bullshit. It helps.”
“Mad Men: Jon Hamm on life as Don Draper and the blessings of late fame“
8. Kid Cudi
Photo by brinsknaps, Flickr
“My anxiety and depression have ruled my life for as long as I can remember and I never leave the house because of it. I cant make new friends because of it. I don’t trust anyone because of it and Im tired of being held back in my life. I deserve to have peace. I deserve to be happy and smiling. Why not me?… Its time I fix me. Im nervous but ima get through this.”
Rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, and actor
“Facebook post on checking into rehab for depression and suicidal thoughts“
9. Ryan Philippe
Photo by Josh Jensen, Flickr
“I think people fear being stigmatized or treated in a blanket fashion, which is sometimes the response to someone who says, ‘I struggle with depression’…
But really, depression could manifest in a thousand different ways depending on who it is. I don’t think there’s any reason not to talk about it. We can help each other cope and give tools that we learn along the way.”
“Ryan Philippe Opens Up About Struggles with Patience and Depression: I Want to Be ‘Kinder and Better’“
10. Ryan Reynolds
Photo by Gage Skidmore, Flickr
”I tend to get pretty depressed and I have some issues with anxiety and things like that. otherwise, I start to get a little bummed. For me, it is more psychological. Exercise is a means of expelling those demons.”
Actor, comedian, film producer and screenwriter
“Ryan Reynolds reveals battle with depression”
11. Donald Glover
Photo by NASA HQ Photo, Flickr
“After I came off tour… I was just super depressed. I mean, I tried to kill myself. I was really fucked up after that, because I had this girl that I thought I was going to marry and we broke up. I didn’t feel like I knew what I was doing. I wasn’t living up to my standard, I was living up to other people’s standards, and I just said ‘I don’t see the point.’”
Actor, comedian, musician, writer, producer, director
“Donald Glover: Fear and Trembling“
12. Shane Koyczan
Photo by Jhayne, Flickr
“What really gave me confidence or what really gave me the reward was seeing how many other people could relate to what I was going through. It made me feel less alone. A large part of what I do is therapy for me — to be exposed to other people who are struggling.”
Spoken word poet and writer
“Poet Shane Koyczan to perform at UVic for Mental Health Awareness Week“
13. Wayne Brady
Photo by SMSpivey, Wikimedia Commons
“It’s difficult for men in general, I think, because of just the way that we’re raised… We feel any of the negative emotions or that dark cloud settle on you, and you feel like you need to cry out or speak to someone about it, and, ‘Nope, I’m not gonna do that, because I’m a man.’ …
What kind of man would I sound like if I told somebody, ‘Hey, I am so sad. I’m cripplingly sad. I can’t get out of bed. I just feel empty. Help me’… I’d be some sissy. I’d be soft. That’s what you’re taught. That’s how you were programmed.
And that’s what kills us.”
Actor, television personality, singer, game show host, producer, comedian, presenter
“Wayne Brady Speaks Out About His Depression: ‘It Ate Away at Me Daily’“
14. Kendrick Lamar
Photo by Fuzheado, Wikimedia Commons
“Nothing was as vulnerable as that record. So it’s even pulling from those experiences of coming up in Compton. It’s pulling with the experience of going through change and accepting change, that’s the hardest thing for a man, accepting change.
And when I was on that tour bus, and things just happening back home in my city or in my family, that I can’t do nothing about it. It’s out of my control, I have to put in Gods hands. I couldn’t understand that and that can draw a thin line, you know between you having your sanity and you losing it. And this is how artists deteriorate if you don’t catch yourself, so when these things happen, my release therapy is writing the music.”
Rapper, songwriter, and record producer
“Kendrick Lamar Talks About ‘u,’ His Depression & Suicidal Thoughts (Pt. 2) | MTV News” (Video)
15. Bruce Springsteen
Photo by Bill Ebbesen, Wikimedia Commons
“I have come close enough to where I know I am not completely well myself. I’ve had to deal with a lot of it over the years, and I’m on a variety of medications that keep me on an even keel; otherwise I can swing rather dramatically and . . . just . . . the wheels can come off a little bit.”
“Beneath the Surface of Bruce Springsteen“
16. Olly Murs
Photo by Sven Mandel, Wikimedia Commons
“I was doing these crazy 16-hour days, seven days a week, and the reality was I couldn’t handle it but I couldn’t admit that to myself, let alone anyone else…
I was like a zombie but underneath it all I was just worrying about what was going to happen to me and I was actually depressed.”
Singer, songwriter, and television presenter
“‘I was a zombie. Drinking too much, depressed, crying’: Olly Murs on the darker side of fame“
17. Demar DeRozen
Photo by Keith Allison, Flickr
“It’s one of them things that no matter how indestructible we look like we are, we’re all human at the end of the day. We all got feelings . . . all of that. Sometimes . . . it gets the best of you, where times everything in the whole world’s on top of you…
It’s not nothing I’m against or ashamed of. Now, at my age, I understand how many people go through it. Even if it’s just somebody can look at it like, ‘He goes through it and he’s still out there being successful and doing this,’ I’m OK with that.”
NBA Basketball Player
“Raptors’ DeRozan hopes honest talk on depression helps others“
18. Dan Reynolds
Photo by IgorSaveliev,
“I’ve finally resolved a lot of these issues in my life… This has been the first time in ten years that I can say I have no depression. Sadness? Hell yeah—it’s included some of the saddest times in my life—but no depression. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been.”
Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer
“How Dan Reynolds From Imagine Dragons Transformed His Body and His Health“
19. Kevin Love
“I know it from experience. Growing up, you figure out really quickly how a boy is supposed to act. You learn what it takes to “be a man.” It’s like a playbook: Be strong. Don’t talk about your feelings. Get through it on your own. So for 29 years of my life, I followed that playbook”
NBA Basketball Player
“Everyone Is Going Through Something“
20. Steve ‘Commando’ Willis
Photo by Eva Rinaldi, Flickr
“I’ve struggled as much as anybody over the years with dealing with my own head and certain things in life. A lot of it is fear. I think a lot of guys unfortunately become caught up in it and go within their four walls and won’t allow anyone else in, even their loved ones.”
Personal trainer and television personality
“‘Even to this day I’m dealing with my own issues…’ Commando Steve opens up about his depression“
10 Famous People with Depression
Depression has long been surrounded by stereotype and stigma. Yet the condition is more common than many people realize. One in 10 adults in the United States report having depression. It is the most common cause of disability in the United States. It can affect people from all walks of life.
Many public figures have shared their own experiences with depression and therapy. Some celebrities have used their platforms to create a dialogue around mental health. Archival documents have led experts to include historical figures in the conversation.
Although depression can be challenging, you are not alone in the struggle. Below are the voices and stories of 10 public figures who have been open about their depression:
1. Abraham Lincoln
“If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on earth.”
Many accounts from friends and family described Lincoln as having a melancholy demeanor. Lincoln himself wrote often about his persistent despair. Modern clinicians agree the symptoms that show up on documents about Lincoln point to what we know today as clinical depression.
2. Ellen DeGeneres
“I can’t believe I came back from that point. I can’t believe where my life is now.”
Ellen DeGeneres is known today for her daytime talk show Ellen and for being a leading advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. Yet when she came out as a lesbian in 1997, DeGeneres says she faced extreme bullying and depression. Her sitcom was canceled, and she felt scared and alone. Ellen used therapy, antidepressants, meditation, and exercise to move through depression.
3. Dwayne Johnson
“I found that, with depression, one of the most important things you could realize is that you’re not alone.”
In a 2018 interview, actor Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson says he’s battled depression multiple times. His first bout with depression came at 15 after his mother attempted suicide in front of him. Johnson says his most severe episode happened after injuries forced him to give up his football dream. Johnson encourages people with depression to ask for help, even if being vulnerable feels hard.
4. Lady Gaga
“I’ve suffered through depression and anxiety my entire life, I still suffer with it every single day.”
In a 2015 interview, singer Lady Gaga said she has lived with depression and anxiety her entire life. She is a founder of the Born This Way Foundation, which promotes mental health awareness and anti-bullying campaigns. The foundation also funds research on adolescent mental health.
5. Buzz Aldrin
“I moved from drinking to depression to heavier drinking to deeper depression.”
In his memoir, astronaut Buzz Aldrin described his battle with alcohol abuse and depression. After returning from his mission to the moon, Aldrin felt a loss of purpose and structure in his life. He divorced his wife and withdrew from society. Aldrin says he used alcohol to numb his feelings. After getting treatment for alcoholism and depression, Aldrin served as the chairman of the National Association of Mental Health.
6. J.K. Rowling
“We’re talking suicidal thoughts here, we’re not talking ‘I’m a little bit miserable.’ “
The author of the Harry Potter series has been vocal about her past experiences with depression. J.K. Rowling had contemplated suicide during her lowest point. She adds cognitive behavioral therapy helped her move forward. Rowling says she has never been ashamed of depression or of deciding to seek help.
7. Wayne Brady
“If me talking about my personal journey helps someone, it’s all worth it.”
In a 2014 interview, comedian Wayne Brady said people generally assume he and other entertainers are happy all the time. After the death of Robin Williams, Brady felt compelled to come forward with his own story about depression and recovery. Brady acknowledged it can be difficult to ask for help due to cultural stigma.
8. Princess Diana
“Then I was unwell with post-natal depression, which no one ever discusses, post-natal depression, you have to read about it afterwards…”
In a 1995 interview, the Wales princess spoke about her postpartum depression. She recalled days when she didn’t want to get out of bed. She also had periods when she would engage in self-harm. The princess says she experienced lots of stigma from her family for her condition. However, she still got treatment and recovered.
9. Michael Phelps
“I said to myself so many times, ‘Why didn’t I 10 years ago?’ “
In a 2018 speech, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps shared his own story of depression. He had an episode of depression “after every Olympics” beginning in 2004. After the 2012 Olympics, he spent days in his room with little food or sleep, thinking about ending his life. After that episode, he decided to get treatment. As Phelps talked about his repressed emotions with a mental health professional, he felt much better than before.
10. Kristen Bell
“Anxiety and depression are impervious to accolades or achievements. Anyone can be affected, despite their level of success or their place on the food chain.”
Actress Kristen Bell first developed depression in college. Although she had a successful life, she began to feel isolated and worthless. She credits her mother for telling her it was possible to get help for her symptoms. During treatment, Bell learned to manage her negative thoughts.
If you or a loved one is experiencing depression, you are not alone. Depression can affect people from all walks of life. A therapist can help you improve your mood and regain your sense of self. There is no shame in getting help.
If you or a loved one is in a crisis, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Other crisis resources can be found here.
15 Celebrities Who Have Battled Depression and How They Have Coped
Depression, also referred to as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), can affect anyone — even a celebrity. Although celebrities are sometimes viewed as heroes and role models, they are susceptible to depression just like anyone else. You don’t have to be a celebrity to seek depression treatment, and there are a myriad of treatment options available to you.
Let’s take a look at 15 celebrities who have dealt with depression, and some of the ways that these celebrities have found hope and managed their symptoms.
1. Katy Perry
Pop star Katy Perry opened up about her battle with depression during a 96-hour YouTube livestream. Perry said she coped with “situational depression” when her album “Witness” fell short of many critics’ and fans’ expectations. She also dealt with suicidal thoughts, and ultimately wrote the song “By the Grace of God” during her bout with depression.
Perry found hope in divinity and “a greater, higher power” during her battle with depression, she told Vogue Australia. She discovered “a new foundation” that set the stage for her future music endeavors.
2. Jon Hamm
Actor Jon Hamm, aka Don Draper from the TV show “Mad Men,” experienced depression symptoms after his father died when he was in college. He told InStyle in 2017 that he used therapy to cope with his depression symptoms, and he still attended therapy at the time of the interview. Hamm also told InStyle that he’s a “self-declared optimist and ‘believer in the human spirit.’”
Hamm found hope in therapy, which helped him cope with depression, grief, and alcohol addiction. He is open about his use of therapy to manage mental illness. Hamm has also been a leading advocate for defeating the ongoing stigma surrounding mental illness.
3. Lady Gaga
Pop star and actress Lady Gaga has experienced depression and anxiety throughout her entire life. She told Billboard magazine in 2015 that she was taking medication for depression. Additionally, Lady Gaga said she is committed to showing disenfranchised teens that they are “not alone.”
Lady Gaga found hope in her music, which she has used to overcome anxiety and pain, she told How to Cope. She has also discovered hope in therapy, which she uses to address her feelings related to self-blame, shame, and damage.
4. Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps, an Olympic swimmer with 28 medals to his name, first coped with depression in 2004. Phelps admitted to CNN that he took drugs to self-medicate and “fix whatever it was that I was trying to run from.” Phelps hit an “all-time low,” he said, after the 2012 Summer Olympics. At that point, he sought help and began to discuss his feelings with others.
Phelps has found hope for a brighter future with stress management. He has implemented stress management into programs offered by the Michael Phelps Foundation, and also collaborates with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America to help change the stigma surrounding mental health issues.
5. Kristen Bell
Actress Kristen Bell, perhaps best known for her roles in the movie “Frozen” and on the TV show “The Good Place,” shared her struggles with depression and anxiety in an essay for Time‘s Motto. In her essay, Bell went public about her battles with depression and anxiety, and she helped reduce the stigma commonly associated with these mental health disorders. Bell pointed out that there was “no logical reason” to feel the way she did.
Bell found hope in her mom. She thanked her mom in her Motto essay for helping her gain the strength to seek out help with her depression and anxiety, and encourages others to explore treatment options for depression and anxiety.
6. Bruce Springsteen
Even musician Bruce Springsteen, aka “The Boss,” has experienced bouts of depression. He opened up about his depression experiences in an interview with Esquire last year, noting that he suffered two emotional breakdowns: one at age 32 and one during his 60s. Springsteen said he was never hospitalized during either his emotional breakdowns, but admitted that he should have been.
Springsteen found hope in medication to manage his depression. He said he uses a variety of medications to help manage his depression symptoms, and these medications help keep him “on an even keel,” he told Esquire.
7. Gwyneth Paltrow
“Ironman” actress Gwyneth Paltrow said she experienced postpartum depression following the birth of her second child, Moses.
Paltrow told Good Housekeeping that she found hope and started to recover from her postpartum depression once she accepted her feelings. She also used therapy and exercise to cope with her postpartum depression.
8. Ashley Judd
Actress Ashley Judd, who has appeared in more than 20 movies, discussed her lifelong bout with mental health issues during a program for students at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) in 2016. According to the Bristol Herald Courier, Judd told ETSU students, “I am Ashley Judd, and I am recovering from depression, and I have no shame.”
Judd found hope in writing about her mental health experiences. She has also hosted programs to educate people on mental health across the United States.
9. Ryan Phillipe
Actor Ryan Phillipe began dealing with depression during childhood. Phillipe told Elle magazine that his depression symptoms have gotten better over time, but admitted that he is “innately kind of a sad person.”
Phillipe has found hope in meditation and exercise. He told Good Housekeeping in 2017 that he has used meditation and exercise to help manage his depression symptoms.
10. J.K. Rowling
J.K. Rowling, author of the “Harry Potter” book series, admitted that she felt depressed when she wrote the novels. In a commencement speech at Harvard University, Rowling called depression “the most unpleasant thing” she has ever experienced.
Rowling found hope in writing. She was able to use her depression in a creative way; she said her severe depression symptoms helped inspire the hooded monsters, the Dementors, in the “Harry Potter” series.
11. Sheryl Crow
Singer and songwriter Sheryl Crow is a breast cancer and brain tumor survivor, but she dealt with depression before she ever faced either of these health problems. Crow told The Telegraph that she has experienced periods of deep depression during her lifetime.
Crow found hope in playing the piano. She said she played piano at a young age so she could “feel something,” and it helped her manage her depression symptoms.
12. Terry Bradshaw
Terry Bradshaw, an NFL Hall of Famer and football broadcaster, said he copes with clinical depression. Bradshaw told the Chicago Tribune in 2003 that he was first diagnosed and treated for depression in the 1990’s, but he had previously dealt with depression for years prior to that.
Bradshaw found hope in the use of antidepressant medication to help manage his depression symptoms, as well as teaching others about depression. He has promoted the antidepressant medication Paxil in the past and helped raise awareness about depression.
13. Buzz Aldrin
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin gained notoriety for being one of the first people to walk on the moon, but his fame actually contributed to his bout with depression. Aldrin told The New York Times that his mother and maternal grandfather dealt with depression.
Aldrin found hope by seeking help for his depression. Eventually, Aldrin became chairman of the National Mental Health Association, and he continues to work to destigmatize depression.
14. Wayne Brady
Comedian Wayne Brady knows what it takes to make people smile, but he hid his depression symptoms for many years. Brady opened up about his battle with depression to Entertainment Tonight in 2014; he admitted that depression made him feel like he did not “want to move.”
Brady found hope in helping others coping with depression, and he has encouraged people dealing with depression to open up about their feelings. He said he believes that people coping with depression can determine why they feel the way they do, then figure out the best way to manage their depression symptoms.
15. Jim Carrey
Actor Jim Carrey has dealt with depression and used antidepressants to treat his depression symptoms. Carrey told 60 Minutes that his approach to life involves being in the moment.
Carrey found hope once he stopped taking antidepressants. He said he does not take alcohol or drugs, and he instead gains strength from the spiritual side of life.
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10 Famous People with Depression, Bipolar Disorder or Both
Whenever I hit a depression rut, where I feel disabled by the illness and therefore pathetic for being brought to my knees by a bunch of thoughts, it helps me to review celebrities — esteemed politicians, actors, musicians, comedians, astronauts, writers, and athletes — that I admire from both the past and present who have also wrestled the demons of depression and bipolar disorder. I feel less alone knowing that this infuriating condition doesn’t discriminate, and that I’m fighting alongside some of the world’s most talented and accomplished people.
Here are a few of the luminaries that have, over the course of their lives, shed some of the stigma of mental illness with their stories and who serve as inspiring role models for those of us in the trenches.
1. Ashley Judd
While visiting her sister, country singer Wynonna Judd, at a treatment center in 2006, counselors suggested that the actress and political activist check herself in, too. So Ashley Judd did just that and spent 47 days in a Texas treatment facility for depression and emotional problems. In a Today interview, she told Matt Lauer:
I was absolutely certifiably crazy, and now I get to have a solution. And for those who are codependent or suffer from depression, there is a solution.
In her memoir, All That Is Bitter and Sweet, Judd describes the abuse and neglect in her turbulent upbringing that led, in part, to her emotional pain and breakdown — and also the hope she feels by focusing on humanitarian work around the world.
2. Catherine Zeta-Jones
Academy Award winning actress Catherine Zeta-Jones never wanted to become a poster child for bipolar II disorder after she went public with her illness in April 2011, but she has nevertheless become a beautiful face behind the disorder. I, for one, am relieved the world can make a connection between one of the most talented and glamorous movie stars and a misunderstood illness.
I found it especially reassuring when she checked into a 30-day program in April 2013 to treat her disorder. The fact that a star can give herself permission to withdraw from the world in order to heal helps me feel less shame when I have to take a time-out for self-care myself.
3. Abraham Lincoln
Award-winning author Joshua Wolf Shenk did a masterful job of exposing the inner demons of the 16th president of the United States in his book Lincoln’s Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness. I go back and read certain chapters whenever I need to be reminded that this curse can render gifts if we have the strength and perseverance to tame it, as Lincoln did. Shenk writes:
With Lincoln we have a man whose depression spurred him, painfully, to examine the core of his soul; whose hard work to stay alive helped him develop crucial skills and capacities, even as his depression lingered hauntingly; and whose inimitable character took great strength from the piercing insights of depression, the creative responses to it, and a spirit of humble determination forged over decades of deep suffering and earnest longing.
4. J.K. Rowling
When the author of the runaway bestselling Harry Potter series was a struggling writer in her twenties — a single mother and newly divorced — she suffered from severe depression and contemplated suicide. She sought help through cognitive behavioral therapy, and after nine months, the suicidal thoughts disappeared.
“I have never been remotely ashamed of having been depressed,” she said in an interview on Suicide.org. “Never. What’s there to be ashamed of? I went through a really tough time and I am quite proud that I got out of that.” Today she doesn’t hesitate to talk about her depression in order to fight the stigma associated with mental illness.
5. Jared Padalecki
Supernatural star Jared Padalecki openly talks about his struggles with depression and feels so passionately about supporting people battling emotional demons that he initiated Always Keep Fighting, his T-shirt campaign through Represent.com to benefit the nonprofit organization To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA), which supports people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide.
During filming of the third season of Supernatural, Padalecki broke down in his trailer after shooting an episode. A doctor soon diagnosed him with clinical depression; he was 25 at the time. Padalecki recently told Variety:
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. These characters that we play on Supernatural, Sam and Dean, are always dealing with something greater than themselves, and I’ve sort of learned from the two of them that they get through it with each other, and with help and with support.
6. Brooke Shields
Brooke Shields had just released her book Down Came the Rain in 2005 about her bout with postpartum depression when I plunged into a severe depression and was hospitalized. A friend sent the book to me, and I’ll always remember the relief I felt when I read the back cover copy — feeling as though this actress-model was giving me permission to feel the pain: “Sitting on my bed, I let out a deep, slow, guttural wail,” she writes. “I wasn’t simply emotional or weepy … This was something quite different. This was sadness of a shockingly different magnitude. It felt as if it would never go away.”
She also wrote a brave op-ed piece for The New York Times following Tom Cruise’s infamous rant with Matt Lauer on NBC’s Today about psychiatry, lambasting Shields and others for taking antidepressants. “Once we admit that postpartum is a serious medical condition,” she writes, “then the treatment becomes more available and socially acceptable. With a doctor’s care, I have since tapered off the medication, but without it, I wouldn’t have become the loving parent I am today.”
7. Winston Churchill
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill referred to his depression as his “black dog”: recurrent episodes of darkness that permeated his life, influencing his career and political leadership. Some people surmise that it was Churchill’s depression that ultimately allowed him to assess the threat of Germany. British psychiatrist Anthony Storr writes:
Only a man who knew what it was to discern a gleam of hope in a hopeless situation, whose courage was beyond reason and whose aggressive spirit burned at its fiercest when he was hemmed in and surrounded by enemies, could have given emotional reality to the words of defiance which rallied and sustained us in the menacing summer of 1940.
He was born into a family of mental illness, and his daughter Diana committed suicide in 1962. Still, he managed to lead the United Kingdom as prime minister from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955, to thrive as a writer and historian, winning the Nobel Prize in Literature, and to be the first person to be made an honorary citizen of the United States.
8. Art Buchwald
He was one of the most successful newspaper columnists of his time, the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize, and a comic genius. But I appreciated Art Buchwald most as one of the three “Blues Brothers” (with Pulitzer Prize winner William Styron and former 60 Minutes reporter and cohost Mike Wallace), who spoke and wrote publicly about his bouts with depression and bipolar disorder.
Buchwald was hospitalized for clinical depression in 1963 and for manic depression in 1987. He was suicidal both times, and credited prescription drugs, therapy, and the hospital staff for saving his life. Had the nurses not been there to “rock him like a baby” during his harrowing dark night, he said he believed he might not have survived to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
9. Amanda Beard
Amanda Beard seemed to have the perfect life: four Olympic medals by age 18 and a promising modeling career. But in a People interview, she confessed that when she went home, “it was just darkness.” Her self-loathing led to bulimia, cutting herself, and depression. In September 2005, Beard began taking antidepressants and seeing a therapist. “It’s not like I went to therapy and — poof! better,” she said in the interview.
Today she’s off her medication, and she hasn’t cut herself since 2008. I admire that she’s real about the enduring struggle. “Even today I have my issues,” she says, “The key is saying, ‘Let’s enjoy this — life is short.’”
10. Jane Pauley
Jane Pauley, the former host of Today and Dateline NBC, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2001 and wrote about her illness in her 2004 memoir, Skywriting: A Life Out of the Blue. During a leave from the network, she was admitted to a psychiatric clinic and treated, but no one at the time knew about her struggles. Now she is outspoken about living with bipolar disorder and depression and raises awareness about mental illness.
In a 2004 Today interview, Pauley explained that her diagnosis was a shock and a relief. She believes it surfaced due to a combination of antidepressants and steroids she took for a case of hives. About taking lithium, she said to Matt Lauer:
It just is stabilizing. It allows me to be who I am. A mood disorder is dangerous. You’ve got to get those dramatic highs and lows stabilized. It’s dangerous if you don’t.
Join Project Hope & Beyond, the new depression community.
Originally posted on Sanity Break at Everyday Health.
10 Famous People with Depression, Bipolar Disorder or Both
5 Famous People You Didn’t Know With Depression
By Kayt Sukel
Famed rocker Bruce Springsteen is usually described as the everyday man’s musician—a tough, get-‘er-done kind of guy who understands the ebb and flow of working class American life. So many were surprised to see him openly discuss his long battle with depression in his new autobiography, Born to Run. In the book, he says his clinical depression is like a “freight train bearing down,” and how both medication and talk therapy have helped to keep his illness in check.
Springsteen is far from alone. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) reports that more than 15 million Americans suffer from depression. It affects people of all beliefs and backgrounds—from all walks of life. Even famous individuals like Springsteen who, from a distance, may seem like they have it all.
If there is one thing to know about depression, it does not discriminate. Here are 4 more celebrities who have battled depression—and what they have to say about the
power of treatment.
Rock Star Sheryl Crow. You may know Crow as the voice behind hits like “All I Wanna Do,” and “Every Day is a Winding Road,” but what you may not realize is that Crow has been quite open about her battles with depression. In an interview with the Daily Mail in 2008, she said, “I suffer from depression, and at its worst there was a six-month period in my 20s when I couldn’t dress, days when I couldn’t leave the house. Antidepressants helped and so did therapy, but depression is a chemical thing that some people go through. It’s always been part of my life.”
Actor Jon Hamm. It’s hard to know if you are supposed to love or hate Hamm’s character on Mad Men, Don Draper. But, in my book, that’s simply a sign of Hamm’s acting chops. In a 2010 interview with the Observer, he discussed his battle with chronic depression—and how therapy made a huge difference for him.
“Which is what therapy does: it gives you another perspective when you are so lost in your own spiral…It helps. And honestly? Antidepressants help! If you can change your brain chemistry enough to think: ‘I want to get up in the morning; I don’t want to sleep until four in the afternoon. I want to get up and go to work and…’ Reset the auto-meter, kick-start the engine!”
Football Star Terry Bradshaw. Famous Pittsburgh Steeler and now sports commentator Bradshaw seems like a happy-go-lucky kind of guy to most. But he’s also been diagnosed with depression. In an interview with CBN, he discussed the stigma of being diagnosed with clinical depression—and why it’s so important to overcome them and get the help you need.
“I didn’t know I was depressed…So, finally when they tell you , you go, ‘ahhh, this is great.’ So, now this explains events in your life and how you handle them. But our society frowns on it and they don’t want their heroes to have these issues, but unfortunately I do.”
Comedian Sarah Silverman. If you are a fan of stand-up comedy, you know that Silverman is not afraid to go…well, anywhere. She tells it like it is, to great comedic effect. And she says her lifelong battle with depression is something that is a part of her comedy. In an interview with Glamour, she said, “Since then I’ve lived with depression and learned to control it, or at least to ride the waves as best I can. I’m on a small dose of , which, combined with therapy, keeps me healthy but still lets me feel highs and lows.”
As I said, depression does not discriminate. But help is out there—whether you are a celebrity or not. If you or a loved one is battling depression, talk to your doctor or a qualified mental health professional. You don’t have to go it alone.