By Kayt Sukel
Everyone feels nervous sometimes. You may feel that slight twinge of anxiety when you face a large crowd, a long flight, an unexpected talk with your boss, or any novel situation.
But for some, anxiety is more than a once-in-a-while type of thing. Those feelings of fear, worry, and nervousness start to get in the way of daily life, impacting your work, your relationships, and your interactions with the world.
When anxiety gets to that point, it is a clinical condition called anxiety disorder—and while there are several different types of anxiety disorders, they are best managed with medication and treatment.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. Approximately 18 percent of the U.S. population has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder at one time or another. And that 18 percent is not limited to just your average Joe. Anxiety disorders affect individuals from all walks of life, including celebrities you often see in television and film.
Anxiety disorders do not discriminate. It truly can strike anyone—even those who may seem, from a distance, to have it all. Here are five celebrities who you may not know have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
1. Singer and Broadway Star Donny Osmond. You may remember Donny from the 1970s and his heyday as a teen heartthrob on “The Donny and Marie” show. Or you may have seen him perform on Broadway. But while this man has sung and danced in front of millions for most of his life, he also happens to suffer from an anxiety disorder. In an interview with Dr. Phil, Osmond says that treatment was the key for him to get over his anxiety and debilitating panic attacks.
“I had to seek professional help and medication,” he said. “But it never leaves you because it’s part of your personality. I’ve learned not to beat myself up about it.”
Osmond is an honorary board member of ADAA, and hopes that others who are suffering from anxiety know that help is out there. “I’ve talked with so many people who were unwilling to do anything about their anxiety disorder because they were too embarrassed. I want to let people know that they are not alone.”
2. Pop Star Ellie Goulding. You have likely heard Goulding’s popular songs “Lights” or “Love Me Like You Do” on your favorite radio station. But while this singer performs for thousands, she also suffers from anxiety, which manifested itself in the form of panic attacks. In an interview with Radar Online, she credits therapy for getting her anxiety under control.
“I went to see an amazing woman to have CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), and she flushed everything out. It took a lot of going back to my childhood. With the help of things like Diazepam in small doses to relax me at certain times, the attacks slowly stopped and now I’m through it.”
3. Writer and Actress Lena Dunham. The creator of the hit HBO show, “Girls,” may seem fearless. But she also suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a form of anxiety. She even shows what it’s like to live with it through her Girls’ character, Hannah. While she credits therapy and medication for helping her symptoms, she’s also a huge proponent of physical exercise to help manage her condition. In an Instagram post, she wrote: “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.”
4. Miami Dolphins’ Ricky Williams. Football players are known for their strength and agility. Ricky Williams is no exception. But he also has been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder—something that plagued him during the bulk of his NFL career. Today, Williams works to educate the public about social anxiety disorder. He lets people know that it is a serious condition but one that can be managed with the right treatment. In a Q&A with USAToday, Williams said: “For me, treatment involved seeing my therapist a few times a month along with taking [medication] every day. The moment I started treating my social anxiety disorder, I started feeling better.”
5. Academy Award-Winning Actress Kim Basinger. You may think of Basinger as Eminem’s mother in 8 Mile, a Bond Girl in Never Say Never Again, or as the sultry femme fatale (an Oscar-winning performance) in L.A. Confidential. But as she openly discussed in the HBO documentary, Panic, she has suffered from anxiety since childhood. In the film, she talks about her feelings of isolation and fear. But, finally, after seeking treatment, she was able to get her panic in check.
“I remember how lonely I felt, and how in need of help I was. And for a length of time I couldn’t find it,” she said. “[My doctor] gave me a new start in life.”
People of all ages, races, backgrounds, and socio-economic statuses can experience debilitating anxiety. Luckily, it is highly treatable with medication and therapy. If you or a loved one thinks you may be experiencing anxiety, help is out there. Seek out your doctor or a qualified mental health professional so you, like these celebrities, can get your anxiety under control.