10 Celebrities Who Live With Depressionby Therese Borchard Health Writer & Patient Advocate
In the four months following the suicide of comedian Robin Williams, there was a 10 percent increase in suicides. When Angelina Jolie underwent a preventative double mastectomy, there was a substantial increase in numbers of women doing the same. Celebrities have a profound impact on public health. We aspire to be like them and follow their examples. Here, then, are ten inspiring figures who have triumphed over depression. Their stories testify to the fact that despair is never permanent, that there is always hope.
In a 2013 Today Show interview, Ashley Judd told Matt Lauer, "I was absolutely, certifiably crazy and now I get to have a solution, and for those who are co-dependent or suffer from depression, there is a solution." Years earlier she went public in a Glamour magzine story about admitting herself into a Texas treatment facility for depression. Her book, All That Is Bitter and Sweet, talks about aspects of her childhood that contributed to her pain, but also the hope she feels going forward and the difference she hopes to make in the world.
When she was 9 years old, Emma Stone drew a picture of her anxiety, a scary green monster that Stephen Colbert showcased for his audience in his 2017 interview with the Academy Award-winning actress. Anxiety has been there her entire life, she explained, but it doesn’t stay indefinitely. She’s learned to cope. “Acting allows me to make productive use of my overly sensitive side and channel all that nervous energy which would otherwise be more of an obstacle in life,” she told Esperanza magazine in a 2017 interview.
J. K. Rowling
Even more gripping than her epic Harry Potter books is the British author’s 2008 Harvard commencement address where she explained how failure and times of darkness can guide you to a sense of purpose. “Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged,” she told the graduating seniors. “I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea.”
When her marriage to baseball player David Justice failed, Halle Berry became despondent and tried to commit suicide. In an interview with Parade magazine in 2007, the Oscar-winning actress revealed that she tried to gas herself. “I was sitting in my car, and I knew the gas was coming when I had an image of my mother finding me,” Berry told Parade. “She sacrificed so much for her children, and to end my life would be an incredibly selfish thing to do.” Therapy helped her find her footing and move beyond the pain.
Prince Harry (The Duke of Sussex)
Prince Harry, now the Duke of Sussex, was only 12 years old when his mother tragically died in a car accident. He buried his grief for nearly two decades, until, at age 28, it bubbled to the surface. In a 2017 interview with The Telegraph, he explained that after shutting down his emotions for so long, he “was on the verge of punching someone,” and experiencing anxiety at royal engagements. He now hopes that by being open about his past he can help shed some of the stigma that exists around mental health issues.
In her memoir Down Came the Rain, Brooke Shields writes: “Sitting on my bed, I let out a deep, slow, guttural wail. 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.” An advocate for new mothers in the throes of postpartum depression, the actress speaks boldly about the importance of pursuing treatment and debunks misconceptions regarding the use of antidepressants.
In 2010, Time magazine named Lady Gaga as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, but success and power didn’t shield her from loneliness and depression. In a 2016 interview with Esperanza magazine, the Grammy-award winning musician talked about how music has helped her heal. “Music was my way of overcoming a lot of pain and anxiety,” she said. “If you give yourself to your creativity and imagination, it can help you overcome almost anything and really enable you to feel free and powerful.”
Balancing a world tour and motherhood isn’t easy to pull off. Add a case of bad postpartum depression to the mix, and you’re left with feelings of guilt and inadequacy, among other things. In a 2016 Vanity Fair cover story, Adele opened up about “her dark side,” her “availability to depression,” and therapy. The soulful music artist described the unique symptoms of her postpartum depression, her fame, and what she learned from fellow moms about taking care of yourself.
The granddaughter of writer Ernest Hemingway has endured not one, but seven suicides in her family. As such, she has become a passionate mental health advocate. In a 2016 interview with the Miami Herald, she said, “There is so much darkness when you don’t speak about [depression], and there’s so much hope and light in recovery if you’re able to tell your story.” Although she has battled depression herself, the force behind her mission comes from witnessing over and over again the destructive power of addiction and depression.
Refreshingly candid about her struggles with depression and anxiety, Selena Gomez tells it like it is. In a 2018 interview with Harper’s Bazaar, she said, “There won’t be a day when I’m like, ‘Here I am in a pretty dress—I won!’ I think it’s a battle I’m gonna have to face for the rest of my life, and I’m okay with that because I know that I’m choosing myself over anything else.” This actress-musician uses her public platform to educate and inspire her fans, guiding them to a path of recovery.