13 Famous People Who Suffer from Depression
Table of Contents
- Famous and Depressed: Sarah Silverman and Bruce Springsteen
- Famous and Anxious: Stephen Colbert
- Paralyzing Moments of Depression: Sheryl Crow and Karamo Brown
- Antidepressants and Therapy: Jon Hamm and Katy Perry
- Opening Up About Depression: The Rock and Terry Bradshaw
- Learning to Cope: Michael Phelps and Lizzo
- The Struggle Is Real: Lady Gaga
Well-loved actress Kristen Bell of movie and television hits such as Frozen, Veronica Mars, and The Good Place, is bubbly, blond, talented and successful. Many would say she has it all. And she likely would agree, but she would be clear that it has taken a lot of work to manage her lifelong struggles with anxiety and depression.
During her 2016 interview with Off Camera, Kristen shared that her mom told her that depression seems to run in her family. Her mom told her that “if you start to feel like you are twisting things around you and you start to feel like there is no sunlight around you, and you are paralyzed with fear, this is what it is, and here’s how you can help yourself.”
Her mother’s warning prepared her to address the feelings that caused her distress.
“I’ve always had a really open and honest dialogue about that – especially with my mom, which I’m so grateful for… I got on a prescription when I was really young to help with my anxiety and depression,” she says. “And I still take it today, and I have no shame in that.”
When celebrities share their struggles with depression and anxiety, it helps reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.
Famous and Depressed: Sarah Silverman and Bruce Springsteen
If you are a fan of stand-up comedy, you know that Sarah Silverman is not afraid to go … well, anywhere. She tells it like it is, to great comedic effect. She says her lifelong battle with depression is something that is a part of her comedy.
In an interview with Glamour, she said, “Once, my stepdad asked me, ‘What does [depression] feel like?’ And I said, ‘It feels like I’m desperately homesick, but I’m home.’”
“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 [an anti-depressant medication], which, combined with therapy, keeps me healthy but still lets me feel highs and lows,” Silverman said. “The dark years and those ups and downs – chemical and otherwise – have always informed my work; I believe being a comedian is about exposing yourself, warts and all.”
Famed rocker Bruce Springsteen surprised many when he openly discussed his long battle with depression in his autobiography, Born to Run.
Springsteen told Esquire magazine that 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. Further, he says that he doesn’t know why he started suffering from depression (scientists have not determined an exact cause for depression), but he said:
“All I do know is as we age, the weight of our unsorted baggage becomes heavier … much heavier. With each passing year, the price of our refusal to do that sorting rises higher and higher. … Long ago, the defenses I built to withstand the stress of my childhood, to save what I had of myself, outlived their usefulness, and I’ve become an abuser of their once lifesaving powers. I relied on them wrongly to isolate myself, seal my alienation, cut me off from life, control others, and contain my emotions to a damaging degree. Now the bill collector is knocking, and his payment’ll be in tears.”
Famous and Anxious: Stephen Colbert
The late night comedian Stephen Colbert said “I needed to be medicated when I was younger to deal with my anxiety,” during an August 2018 interview with Rolling Stone.
He explains, “I had a bit of a nervous breakdown after I got married – kind of panic attacks. My wife would go off to work and she’d come home – because I worked at night – and I’d be walking around the couch. And she’s like ‘How was your day?’ And I’d say, ‘You’re looking at it.’ Just tight circles around the couch.”
For Colbert, the best panacea for his anxiety, over the long term, has been performing.
“Creating something is what helped me from just spinning apart like an unweighted flywheel,” he said. “And I haven’t stopped since. Even when I was a writer I always had to be in front of a camera a little bit. I have to perform.”
Paralyzing Moments of Depression: Sheryl Crow and Karamo Brown
Sheryl Crow, the voice behind hits like “All I Wanna Do” and “Every Day is a Winding Road,” opened up about her battles with depression during an interview with the Daily Mail.
“I suffer from depression, and at its worst there was a six-month period in my twenties when I couldn’t dress, days when I couldn’t leave the house,” she told the paper. “Antidepressants helped and so did therapy.”
Depression doesn’t discriminate and it can seriously impact even the most seemingly put together of people.
Karamo Brown, the mental health professional of Queer Eye fame, told his Instagram followers about being in a dark place in 2006.
“I just felt like life could not get any better, everything that was happening to me was never going to change, and I tried to take my own life,” he said.
He credits his closest friends with saving his life when they called an ambulance to take him to the hospital.
“I know so many of us suffer from mental health issues, and we just don’t know where to turn,” he said in his Instagram video. “I want you to know that things do get better, that if you get help and you do the work daily, your life can change. I’m living proof of that.”
Antidepressants and Therapy: Jon Hamm and Katy Perry
Jon Hamm, Mad Men’s antihero Don Draper, discussed his battle with chronic depression with The Guardian. He talked about being “unmoored” by the death of his father when Hamm was in college. His mother had died of cancer when he was 10.
“I struggled with chronic depression. I was in bad shape,” Hamm told the paper. “I knew I had to get back in school and back in some kind of structured environment and … continue.”
He found that getting back into a structured environment helped him to move forward, but that he also benefitted from both therapy and antidepressants.
“I did do therapy and antidepressants for a brief period, which helped me. Which is what therapy does,” Hamm continued. “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!”
Singer Katy Perry experienced depression in her 30s.
“I became depressed and I did not want to get out of bed. In the past, I had been able to overcome it, but this time something happened that made me fall down too many flights of stairs. I had to really go on a mental health journey,” the singer told Vogue India.
Her mental health journey was supported by her partner Orlando Bloom, who she said is “not the number one fan of Katy Perry, but he’s the number one fan of Katheryn Hudson.”
“Now I feel like I’ve done the work, and I’m still doing the work emotionally, spiritually, physically, psychologically,” she told Good Morning America. “Now I’ve come to this light at the end of the tunnel, which means I am going to live. And not only that, I’m going to bring life into the world. So, it ends in a positive place so far.”
Today, Perry is working to destigmatize mental health issues.
“We talk about all our different organs but never talk about our brain, which keeps us functioning the most,” she said to Vogue India.
Opening Up About Depression: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Terry Bradshaw
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson discussed his struggle with depression in an iTV interview. He talked about how depression can affect anyone at any time.
“Regardless of who you are or what you do for a living or where you come from – [depression] doesn’t discriminate,” said Johnson. “I thought, well, use that experience and if I could share a little bit of that with people, if it could help somebody, then I’m happy to do it.”
The most important thing he’s learned is that you need to talk about your depression: “as men, there’s a DNA and a wiring in us and a constitution that oftentimes doesn’t let us talk about [when] we’re scared or vulnerable or things like that. It’s kind of like what’s been deemed as toxic masculinity. But, no, you gotta talk about it and you’re not alone.”
Famous former Pittsburgh Steeler and sports commentator Terry Bradshaw told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about his ongoing struggle with depression. “You gotta win fans, you gotta do this, you gotta throw more passes, hit more touchdowns, win more Super Bowls… Where’s the peace? Am I ever going to get some peace?”
In the early 1990s, Bradshaw was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder and later suffered from anxiety, with an attack so severe that he was sure he would die, the Post-Gazette reports. A few years later, Bradshaw received a depression diagnosis.
“I felt like I was on death row, and I couldn’t get out of the hole, emotionally,” Bradshaw said. “It just got deeper and deeper and I got scared.” According to the Post-Gazette, “he found relief after being prescribed antidepressants.”
Bradshaw began speaking publicly about his condition because he wanted to encourage others to get treatment.
“Men are the last ones to seek help. Men can’t be depressed – we’re macho men,” said Bradshaw. “So, I think it’s good in the sense that I’ve let it be known, because there are a lot of men out there that are probably saying ‘If Terry can do this, then I can do this.’”
Learning to Cope: Michael Phelps and Lizzo
When Michael Phelps spoke out about dealing with depression, he emphasized the value in sharing his experience.
“I have a chance to save a life, and that’s way bigger than ever winning any gold medals,” he said in Men’s Health magazine. “It’s OK to not be OK.”
Phelps initially addressed his depression after seriously contemplating suicide in 2014. While he sought out and received help that has benefitted him, he said that even today, “his mental health issues are ongoing.”
“He admitted to initially hating therapy,” according to Men’s Health, “but says it ended up saving his life. Phelps credits counseling with giving him insight into his feelings and tools to manage his depression.”
He told the magazine that his depression tends to show up worse during October and November. “I just go dark … I’m moody. Any one comment can set me off. It’s scary,” he said.
In addition to therapy, he uses coping skills such as journal writing and affirmations. Because the dialogue inside his head is often negative, Phelps believes that positive affirmations help him feel better.
“You believe the things you tell yourself,” he said. “We deserve to be happy.”
When Big Grrrl Small World artist, Lizzo feels depressed, she leans on self-love, according to an article in Teen Vogue.
Lizzo posted a text video to her Instagram account, saying: “I’m depressed and there’s no one I can talk to because there’s nothing anyone can do about it. Life hurts.”
“I self-love so hard because everything feels like rejection,” she wrote in the Instagram caption. “It feels like the whole world be ghostin me sometimes.”
Yet, Lizzo wrote that sharing her story may help.
“I learned in the last 24hrs that being emotionally honest can save your life. Reaching out may be hard but as soon as I did it, I was immediately covered in love,” the singer wrote in another Instagram post.
The Struggle Is Real: Lady Gaga
“I have struggled for a long time, both being public and not public about mental health issues or my mental illness,” Lady Gaga said in her acceptance speech for the Global Changemaker’s Award for her work with the Born This Way Foundation. “But I truly believe that secrets keep you sick.”
The Foundation, which her mother Cynthia Germanotta runs, focuses on kindness as “the driving power” behind the work they do supporting the mental health of young people.
Gaga thanked her mother “for not being afraid of my darkest thoughts and for doing what many don’t realize goes very far: just holding my hand and running an organization that helps hold the hands of others and join the hands of others… Suicide ideation feels like a spell and we have to have empathy. Be kind and help each other break the spell and live and thrive.”
There are many more celebrities and famous people who are sharing their mental health struggles publicly. By speaking out, they may be able help others not to feel alone and encourage them to seek help.
For more information about depression please read the following articles on the GeneSight blog:
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