Mental health is a discussion that more and more celebrities are taking part in. Here are 23 celebrities talking about their own bouts with depression and addiction
Depression is a difficult disorder to summarise. It can be temporarily triggered by difficult life events or persist for a number of years, be treated by medication or require psychotherapy. Up to 20 percent of the population will experience symptoms of depression, and a recent report by The Guardian showed that the percentage of under-18s prescribed antidepressants between 2015 and 2016 has increased by 12 percent. Are GPs over-prescribing medication as an alternative to psychotherapy or is it simply a result of more people seeking help after awareness groups bringing issues to light?
And what roles do celebrities play in this? As of late, celebs have been coming forward in an attempt to normalise discussions of mental health by sharing their personal experiences. Here are 23 with depression who may surprise you.
1. Salma Hayek
Hollywood star Salma Hayek, was named one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world by People magazine in 1996, 2003 and 2008, but she revealed to Jean Godfrey-June with Lucky magazine in 2012 that she had such terrible issues with her image that it resulted in a deep depression.
‘I had acne. And this acne was so bad it sent me into severe, severe depression. Like I couldn’t leave the house. The next stage with that sort of depression is food – too little or too much. … I was fat and broken out,’ said Hayek. ‘I’d wake up in the morning and lie there and touch my face before I got up, just to prepare myself to look in the mirror.’
2. Billie Piper
In 2010 actress, Billie Piper revealed to Glamour that she was medically diagnosed with post-natal depression after giving birth to her son Winston in 2008. She mentioned feeling additional stress due to her show Secret Diary Of A Call Girl, but said she never took the medication prescribed to her.
‘I feel I’m too strong in mind and spirit for pills. I didn’t feel it was that desperate – just a bad day.’
3. Olly Murs
Though singer Olly Murs’ 2012 autobiography was titled Happy Days, the singer opened up about a number of times during which he had bouts of depression throughout his career. In 2015 he explained the pressures of touring and producing music caught up to him. To cope, he turned to alcohol.
During a meeting with management, Murs released his frustration in a bout of tears, during which time he expected to be sacked and was instead told to take a break.
‘It’s crazy but that was the last thing you expect to hear. You almost expect them to say, “Well goodbye then.” But they had more faith in me than I had in myself and they also realised I was burnt out. It took two weeks for me to sort myself out,’ said Murs. ‘I came back and everything just flew from that point. Of all the things you need to hang on to, your head is the one that counts.’
I’ll always have to force myself to see the positive, because I’m wired badly
4. Miranda Hart
Comedian, Miranda Hart is one of Britain’s most beloved when it comes to comedy, but says her performing persona is much different than who she truly is. In 2012 Hart questioned her career to the point of wanting to quit. She said she struggled with loneliness and felt overwhelmed.
‘I’ll always have to force myself to see the positive, because I’m wired badly,’ Hart said to the Express
The last track on music star Stormzy’s album called Lay Me Bare contains lyrics alluding to an ongoing battle with depression. In fact, earlier in 2017 Stormzy did an interview with Channel 4 during which he discussed how his battle with depression helped inspire his album Gang Signs and Prayer.
‘Gang Signs and Prayer is heavily influenced by the idea of ‘how fragile we are as humans’ Stormzy said. Additionally, he spoke of a conversation he had with a friend who told him he was struggling with depression. Stormzy dismissed him and now realizes his mistake in that moment.
‘It wasn’t a harsh way, I just used to think ‘just be happy’, do you know what I mean? ‘Just pull it together’. That was a world that was so alien to me. I just used to think ‘you get up, march on’.’
He was inspired to go public with his struggles by the idea of others who feel the same.
6. Leona Lewis
In 2014, the former X Factor star penned an open letter on Twitter explaining her break from Syco management and how her career had affected her.
‘At some points I felt extremely depressed and other times experienced amazing highs, but it got to a place where the downs were outweighing the ups. So I’m writing this letter for anyone who has ever felt the same way,’ Lewis wrote.
7. Chrissy Teigen
In March of 2017, model Chrissy Teigen wrote an essay for Glamour discussing her postnatal depression. It was the first time she had publicly addressed it, describing her symptoms and her surprise at hearing her diagnoses.
‘Growing up in the nineties, I associated postpartum depression with Susan Smith [a woman now serving life in prison for killing her two sons], with people who didn’t like their babies or felt like they had to harm their children. I didn’t have anything remotely close to those feelings. I looked at Luna every day, amazed by her. So I didn’t think I had it.’
8. Jon Hamm
Jon Hamm may be one of Hollywood’s sexiest men and a legend for his portrayal of Don Draper in Mad Men, but these are all newly acquired titles. In fact, Hamm lost both of his parents to illness at an early age and has been dealing with chronic depression ever since. In 2015 he checked into rehab to deal with alcoholism and broke up with his girlfriend of 18 years.
Ever the optimist, Hamm endorses therapy and encourages people to break the stigma behind getting help.
‘Medical attention is medical attention whether it’s for your elbow or for your teeth or for your brain,’ Hamm told InStyle in 2017. ‘We live in a world where to admit anything negative about yourself is seen as a weakness, when it’s actually a strength. It’s not a weak move to say, ‘I need help.’ In the long run it’s way better, because you have to fix it.’
9. Cara Delevingne
Cara Delevinge is hailed as the queen of millennials, which is true not only for her candid goofy side and simultaneous status as one of the most beautiful high fashion models of the moment, but also how honest she is about her mental illness.
Delevinge expressed to Esquire her feelings toward her addiction-addled mother and how numb she felt during the years she was on medication to handle her depression. She described her battle with insecurity and how she often feels like an outsider within society.
‘I was suicidal. I couldn’t deal with it any more. I realised how lucky and privileged I was, but all I wanted to do was die,’ Delevinge said. ‘I felt so guilty because of that and hated myself because of that, and then it’s a cycle. I didn’t want to exist anymore. I wanted for each molecule of my body to disintegrate. I wanted to die.’
10. Kendrick Lamar
In an interview with MTV in 2015, rapper Kendrick Lamar gave an in depth analysis of his lyrics concerning the song “u” from To Pimp A Butterfly.
‘A friend never leave Compton for profit / Or leave his best friend, little brother/ You promised you’d watch him before they shot him’
The song goes on to discuss suicide, alcoholism and survivor’s guilt for leaving his family behind in the rough city of Compton, California. Most importantly, he raps about losing his friends to the streets and the difficult time he had dealing with those instances from the road. All of these factors contributed to the development of his depression.
‘When I was on that tour bus and things is happening back home in my city or in my family that I can’t do nothing about, it’s out of my control, [and to] put it in God’s hands, I couldn’t understand that,’ said Lamar. ‘These [are] people I grew up with. It all, psychologically, it messes your brain up. You live in this life, you know what I’m saying, but you still have to face realities of this. I gotta get back off that tour bus and go to these funerals… Talk to my mom and talk to their aunties — the kids that lost their lives.’
11. Tom Hardy
Actor Tom Hardy is known for playing roles that accentuate his bad boy image, but within that is a contradiction itself. Hardy is a doting father to his son and a hard worker, but he admits the constant stream of acting jobs has replaced a darker addiction.
Hardy has been sober since 2003, but before that he was an uncontrollable alcoholic and heroin addict. Substance abuse was how he chose to deal with his depression, but it was a dangerous one. Despite a middle class upbringing in London, the actor was expelled from boarding school for theft, once sentenced to 14 years in prison and only found help after waking in the streets of Soho in a pool of vomit and blood.
‘I did something particularly heinous that allowed me to wake up,’ said Hardy. ‘I had to lose something. Sometimes you have to lose something that is worth more to you than your drinking.’
He continued to explain in an interview with the Mirror in 2014 that he’s afraid of being out of control, not knowing about the future and knowing he’s only one mistake away from ruining everything he’s built for himself.
12. Emma Thompson
In 2010 British actress Emma Thompson spoke on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs about her clinical depression, which she said began in the 1980s while starring in the West End show Me and My Girl.
‘I really didn’t change my clothes or answer the phone, but went into the theatre every night and was cheerful and sang the Lambeth Walk,’ said Thompson. ‘That’s what actors do.’
Thompson credited her sanity not to drugs or therapy, but her immersion into writing the screenplay for Sense and Sensibility. She used Jane Austen as an escape from ‘the voices in my head. The constant “must do better”, “must try harder” plus “you’re too fat and not really a very good mother”.’
Later, when depression revisited during her divorce to actor Greg Wise, Thompson admitted she should have sought out professional help earlier.
13. Sarah Silverman
Actress and comedian Sarah Silverman has infiltrated popular culture with her sense of humour and sometimes controversial statements on politics. It would seem to many that she’s mastered the ‘don’t care’, happy-go-lucky attitude, but Silverman revealed in an essay to Glamour that she has been affected by depression since she was a child.
‘I first experienced depression when I was 13,’ said Silverman. ‘I went from being the class clown to not being able to see life in that casual way anymore. I couldn’t deal with being with my friends, I didn’t go to school for months, and I started having panic attacks.’
She’s had experiences with therapists who prescribed her as many as 16 Xanax pills a day, one who took her off medication completely and one who actually committed suicide. Once off medication, she felt more like herself for the next six years, but felt it return one evening while she was a Saturday Night Live cast member. She now takes a small dose of Zoloft and partakes in therapy to stay healthy.
14. Brad Pitt
One of the most sought-after men in the world in many regards, Brad Pitt is known for his humility and hippie nature. In 2012 he told The Hollywood Reporter that he’d dealt with depression in the past and partook in substance abuse with marijuana and alcohol. He described the darker parts of his past as a ‘great education’ and a way of figuring himself out.
It’s unsurprising that his split with Angelina Jolie in late 2016 prompted another bout of depression, though Pitt insists he believes it would have caught up with him regardless of the divorce.
‘I come from a place where, you know, it’s strength if we get a bruise or cut or ailment we don’t discuss it, we just deal with it. We just go on. The downside of that is it’s the same with our emotion,’ said Pitt. Since his separation, he’s begun therapy and stopped drinking, saying he simply didn’t want to live the way he had been prior to that decision.
15. LeAnn Rimes
In the midst of global pop stars like Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears, it’s easy to forget the beloved country singer LeAnn Rimes was also once a child star. Her career took off at 11 and since then, she’s been dealing with the pressure of fame and watching former friends break down in the public eye.
Rimes spent time in rehab figuring out how to deal with her mental illness. Much of it was triggered in a public scandal during which time Rimes cheated on her first husband with actor Eddie Cibrian and was consequently ‘slut shamed’.
‘I’m very happy now. We’ve been married for over five years and I have my two stepsons, but the shaming thing, that’s where I had severe anxiety and depression,’ said Rimes. ‘It was a mistake but it also led me to my marriage. I didn’t know how to deal with that and it became this snowball effect.’
16. Ruby Rose
Bullied as a child, Australian model, Ruby Rose, has battled depression her entire life. In fact, she continues to deal with bipolar disorder and moved to America in order to go to undergo treatment in a rehabilitation centre. In 2013 the actress cancelled a few appearances and posted a startling tweet that relayed she felt as if she were continuing to fight a losing battle against her depression.
She spoke to Daily Mail explaining she continues to take prescription medication, but alternates other drugs for herbal supplements for anxiety and sleep.
‘I couldn’t find happiness anywhere except my dog’s face and even that wasn’t enough. I thought I had failed at being a human [and] being an adult,’ Rose said.
17. Kristen Bell
Known for voicing the lovable Princess Anna in Frozen or crying over sloths on the Ellen show, Kristen Bell is one of the last celebrities you expect to hear about battling depression. However, Bell penned an essay for Time in 2016 dealing with the topic of mental illness and the stigma attached to it.
‘It’s a knee-jerk reaction to judge people when they’re vulnerable. But there’s nothing weak about struggling with mental illness. You’re just having a harder time living in your brain than other people,’ wrote Bell.
There’s nothing weak about struggling with mental illness. You’re just having a harder time living in your brain than other people
18. Dolly Parton
The 71-year-old is known for making country music hits that are impossible not to sing along to on a dreary day, but in her 2017 autobiography Dolly on Dolly, she revealed a darker history. In the past she’s discussed how depression has run in her family, but only recently did she discuss a suicide attempt in the 1980s.
She described a moment during a low point when she sat in her bedroom and remembered a pistol she kept in a bedside table for burglars. She picked the gun up and contemplated it when her dog entered the room, which Parton believes was a sign sent from God.
‘I don’t think I’d have done it, killed myself, but I can’t say for sure. Now that I’ve gone through that terrible moment, I can certainly understand the possibilities even for someone solid like me if the pain gets bad enough,’ Parton told the Daily Mail.
19. Sarah Michelle Gellar
The former 90s teen sweetheart and vampire slayer actress, Sarah Michelle Gellar, revealed in an Instagram post in May of 2017 that she suffered from postnatal depression after the 2009 birth of her daughter. She’s known for keeping mum on her private life, but felt the need to make this matter public during President Trump’s change on American healthcare.
‘Like a lot of women, I too struggled with postpartum depression after my first baby was born. I got help, and made it through, and every day since has been the best gift I could ever have asked for. To those of you going through this, know that you’re not alone and that it really does get better.’
20. Wayne Brady
In 2014 Wayne Brady opened up in an on-screen interview with Entertainment Tonight about his own struggle with depression after comedian Robin Williams committed suicide. The host of Let’s Make A Deal said depression contributed to the end of his marriage and on his 42nd birthday he had a break down that led him to seek help.
‘I think that when you keep these secrets, and something that you learn as you read more and go into treatments and get help is, that these secrets kill. Nobody wants to out themselves, so to speak. Or if they out themselves, it’s in a very Hollywood way,’ said Brady. ‘I talked about it [because] I know not everyone is lucky enough to have a support system to talk and you may have a wall up that stands between you and help.’
21. Bruce Springsteen
In his 2016 autobiography Born to Run, The Boss wrote about his on-going battle with mental illness. Before its release he spoke with Vanity Fair about how depression manifested itself within his family. Within his household, Springsteen feared becoming like his father and said depression was never brought up as a topic of discussion.
‘You don’t know the illness’s parameters. Can I get sick enough to where I become a lot more like my father than I thought I might?’
Springsteen has actively attended psychotherapy sessions and credits some of his sanity to his wife Patti Scialfa.
‘Patti will observe a freight train bearing down, loaded with nitroglycerin and running quickly out of track … she gets me to the doctors and says: “This man needs a pill.”’
22. Zoe Kazan
In November of 2016, Zoe Kazan penned an essay for The New York Times concerning her eating disorder and how she overcame it. At Yale she saw a therapist but felt terrified to tell her partner or manage it on her own.
‘The causes for my eating disorder ran along the usual lines: depression, an inability to express my rage, a desire to exert control, a desire to feel less, a desire to have my body express the things my voice could not. That, and I had gotten in the habit of believing it was better to take up less space,’ Kazan said. ‘Love didn’t make me better, but it made me happier. And it gave me the incentive to appear well, even if I was not.’
After she found the courage to open up to her boyfriend of the time, Kazan said her fear began to fade even if her illness did not. It still took her years to manage her eating disorder, but she thinks that admission was a catalyst to overcoming her mental illness.
23. Kid Cudi
In a Facebook post in October 2016, Scott Mescudi, known to most as rapper Kid Cudi, wrote an open letter about his experience with mental illness and his decision to check into rehab.
‘Yesterday I checked myself into rehab for depression and suicidal urges. I am not at peace. I haven’t been since you’ve known me. If I didn’t come here, I would’ve done something to myself. I simply am a damaged human swimming in a pool of emotions everyday of my life,’ Mescudi wrote.
Kid Cudi returned to the stage in November at ComplexCon to perform and tweeted about his appreciation for support he received from his fans.
Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.