Mental health issues aren’t the easiest thing to own up to. There’s always been a stigma attached to them, and a lack of public education and understanding about emotional issues combined with an enthusiastic pharmaceutical industry has created a society where we simultaneously all have something “wrong” with us, but judge others for their issues.
Yet, these celebrities shook off that stigma and face down their problems in the public eye. Hopefully, that will help people realize they’re not alone with these issues and that things can get better.
J.K. Rowling – Depression
J.K. Rowling says she’s never been ashamed of her depression. It’s not something that people should feel ashamed of. She says that while discovering and battling through her depression was a really difficult period in her life, she eventually overcame it.
She’s certainly done well for someone who had to deal with mental health issues. She’s gone on to become the world’s best-selling and richest-ever author for a start. That’s a substantial achievement for somebody who once couldn’t cope with the pressures of day-to-day life. It’s good that’s she’s willing to share her experiences too.
Catherine Zeta-Jones – Bipolar II Disorder
Catherine Zeta-Jones, moviestar and wife to Michael Douglas, has had problems with bipolar disorder. She opened up to the world on social media and wants to help others come to terms with the condition as she herself once did.
It certainly hasn’t held Catherine back in life. She’s a superstar in her own right and has climbed the ladder from British TV star in the Darling Buds of May to the dizzying heights of Hollywood. She’s also been awarded a CBE by the Queen of England for her services to the acting profession which is an incredible honor.
Gwyneth Paltrow – Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression is the depression experienced by a large percentage of new mothers in the weeks and months following the birth of a child. The international superstar Gwyneth Paltrow dealt with it, recalling, “I thought it meant I was a terrible mother and a terrible person.” Of course, it didn’t, and she has since overcome the condition.
She’s best known for her role in Shakespeare in Love and her increasingly bizarre pronouncements on food fads and medical advice. She also married rock star Chris Martin of Coldplay fame. Recently, she appeared in the cult TV series Glee as a slightly peculiar teacher.
Angelina Jolie, Depression
Angelina Jolie said of her depression and recovery, “I felt I was going in to 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.” That something was acting, and it worked.
Angelina went on to become the star of many movies including Tomb Raider which featured Angkor Wat in Cambodia, leading to a relationship with the country that included adopting a child from there. She married Brad Pitt, though they are in the process of divorce. The family includes children from a few different countries.
Jon Hamm – Depression
Jon Hamm encourages people to seek treatment for depression as he once did, saying, “Antidepressants help! If you can change your brain chemistry to think ‘I want to get up in the morning’… reset the auto-meter and kick start the engine.”
He says that the struggle each day is to find new reasons to get up and get going. Jon’s career includes many acting and production roles but his biggest known role is in the TV series Mad Men in which he played Don Draper, who might just have had a few mental issues of his own as high-flying ad-men are wont to do.
Elton John – Bulimia
Elton John is a pretty healthy looking guy today, so you’d never guess that he’d recovered from a major eating disorder. He says the turning point for him came when, “I said, I need help. I knew that I was going to get better and I was determined to get better.”
Elton John is one of the most successful singers of all time and his writing partnership with Bernie Taupin is the most successful in history. He lives with his partner now, and while he still makes public appearances, most of his time is dedicated to raising their son together.
Jim Carrey – Depression
Jim Carrey freely admits that he spent a long time using the drug Prozac to combat his depression. He said it was hard to know when it was OK to stop taking the drug, but he’s glad he did because he didn’t want to become dependent on it.
Jim Carrey caught the public imagination with his roles in dozens of comedy films. It must have been hard making other people laugh when inside he just wanted to cry. His roles in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and in Dumb and Dumber are among the all-time comedy films this generation.
Drew Carey – Depression
Drew discusses his depression and suicide attempts with frank honesty in his book Dirty Jokes and Beer: Stories of the Unrefined. He says that it’s about time more celebrities stood up and talked about their issues so that both they and the public can have a better dialogue about mental health.
Drew began his career in the American Marine Corps and that may be where he first battled his issues. Today, Drew’s in a better place and works tirelessly to make others laugh as a comedian, actor, and sports executive; that’s a pretty impressive resume for a guy who’s had as much on his plate as Drew has over the years.
Mel Gibson – Manic Depression
Mel said, “I have had some really good highs, but some really worse lows. I discovered recently that I am manic depressive.” He sought treatment for his condition following a very rocky patch in his life in 2006 when he attacked a police officer and made some terrible anti-Semitic statements.
Mel Gibson’s career peaked with his graphic portrayal of Jesus Christ’s trial and sentence in The Passion of the Christ before becoming derailed by his issues. However, he’s now on track for a comeback and appears to have dealt with the worst of his problems (or so we hope).
Brooke Shields – Postpartum Depression
Brooke says, “I had gone through numerous attempts to have a baby and when I did finally have this perfect, beautiful, healthy baby and it all but destroyed me. I couldn’t hold the baby, I couldn’t do anything for the baby, I couldn’t look at the baby.”
Brooke’s been working hard all her life since she became a child star at the tender age of 12. Today, she’s married to Chris Henchy and they have two children together. Now that she’s over the post-partum depression, they have a happy family life and she speaks out on the subject regularly to help other women too.
Emma Thompson – Depression
Emma Thompson says combatting her depression was so hard, it had an effect on her very sanity. “I don’t think I did stay sane. I should have sought professional help. Divorce. Ghastly, painful business.” She encourages people dealing with depression to seek medical help rather than taking on the burden alone.
She says without her husband’s help – she’d have been lost. Emma picked up an Academy Award for her work on the seminal Howard’s End and has been a huge star of British TV and film for decades. It just goes to show that success doesn’t always equal happiness.
Carrie Fisher – Bipolar Disorder
Carrie Fisher didn’t know what was wrong with her until a psychotic break in 1997 triggered an accurate diagnosis. She wrote about her experiences in her highly personal autobiography Postcards from the Edge and the sequel The Best Awful. She had refused to seek help for years believing her problems were due to Hollywood.
Carrie Fisher recently passed away and sadly, her mother passed away barely a day later. However, until the years leading up to her death, she was always frank and open about the problems she’d faced. She saw it as a duty to guide others in the same situation.
Michael Phelps – ADHD
Michael Phelps is the person who has won the most Olympic golds in history. He also says that it was his ADHD which led him to victory. He began swimming to try and combat the condition through physical exercise and he fell in love with it. The rest, as they say, is history.
28 medals is an incredible career haul and his ability to overcome his ADHD says volumes about the man that Michael Phelps is. He’s happy to share his experiences with many other people so that they can think about ways to tackle their own ADHD as well.
Paula Deen – Agoraphobia
The death of Paula’s parents while her marriage was slowly disintegrating triggered agoraphobia and the celebrity chef has spent two decades fighting the condition. Her 14 best-selling cookbooks suggest that she’s won at least some of that battle. Her biggest step was starting her catering company that propelled her down the road to stardom.
Paula also operates The Lady and Sons restaurant in Savannah, Georgia which, pretty unsurprisingly, her sons also help her run. She also works to raise money for good causes in the local area and despite the occasional controversy in her life, she seems to be doing very well now.
Margot Kidder – Bipolar Disorder
Margot Kidder was Lois Lane, but is perhaps more well-known these days for her highly public meltdown in 1996, which led to her living on the streets. She finally received help for a condition that had been tormenting her all of her life and she recently said that she’s not had an episode in nearly 15 years.
Kidder’s now more involved with political activism than with acting. She’s focusing her attention on a wide range of Democratic and Liberal causes which she believes are vital to the future of the world. Born in Canada, she became an American citizen in 2005.
Sinead O’Connor – Bipolar Disorder
Sinead O’Connor’s experience with bipolar disorder has been somewhat bipolar in its own right. She told Oprah Winfrey in 2007 that she was a sufferer and that she was medicating for the condition. Then a few years later she told the Irish Mirror that she’d never suffered from the condition at all.
Sinead’s greatest hit was “Nothing Compares 2 U,” a heartfelt ballad that touched the soul of nearly everyone who heard it at the time of release. She’s still working but hasn’t really ever achieved the same acclaim in recent years. But you never know what’s around the corner.
Amanda Bynes – Schizophrenia (Allegedly)
Amanda Bynes has been in and out of the papers for her controversial behavior. She even tried to commit arson on a next door neighbor’s home. Around that same time, she was reportedly diagnosed as schizophrenic although there is debate about that. Amanda Bynes retired from acting at that point, and concentrated her attention on getting help for her problems and managing the legal issues that they had caused for her in the meantime.
She’s received treatment for her problems and is now plotting a comeback. She has been reported as saying that she wants people to know that there is always hope when they’re facing these challenges and that there is a way back.
Jean-Claude Van Damme – Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder
Van Damme’s condition is similar to bipolar disorder but it changes from “good” to “bad” much more often and at a much faster rate. It wasn’t until he found himself seriously considering suicide that he sought treatment.
He now has the issue under control thanks to prescription medication. Van Damme is best known for his ’80s and ’90s action movies such as Kickboxer. However, he’s gone on to continue his career and even proved that he can laugh at himself in movies such as The Expendables which take a gentle approach to mocking the movies of his past.
Demi Lovato – Bipolar Disorder, Bulimia, and Addiction
Demi Lovato’s problems led her to think that she was fat and ugly. She lost the plot completely in 2010 and ended up checking into a clinic for treatment. At this stage, she weighed just over 100lbs! She says that the treatment was good and she’s now happy with who she is.
That’s probably a good thing as Demi has so much to celebrate in her life. She’s won awards for both acting and singing, including a Grammy award for her 2013 album. She is also one of the strongest LGBT rights advocates in Hollywood today and has helped thousands of people through campaigning work.
Britney Spears – Nervous Breakdown
Pop’s young princess found her world fell apart in 2008 when she faced down a very public nervous breakdown. She checked into a clinic as the world criticized her as a parent and speculated that she was a drug addict.
Things are fine now but for a while, life was very difficult indeed. Britney wasn’t a fly by night sensation, either. Her records have sold over 100 million copies and she is in the Top 10 best-selling female artists of all time. Her early work may have been syrupy pop, but her later work is considered mature and deep by many critics.
J.K. Rowling – Suicidal Thoughts
It’s commonly known now that best-selling Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling faced a rough struggle with depression when she was a single mom trying to make it as a writer. But some of Rowling’s fans might not be aware just how severe her depression was.
After she and her first husband separated, Rowling began feeling suicidal and had thoughts of taking her own life. Luckily, the fact that she had a daughter to raise on her own caused Rowling to seek professional help. After several months of cognitive-behavioral therapy she felt like herself again and went on to become the mega success story she is today.
Mischa Barton – Breakdowns
The former OC star was first hospitalized in June of 2009 when her stress and anxiety hit a tipping point that sent her into a breakdown. At the time she was going through a lawsuit with her mother, who was prying into her career, trying to get a piece of her $3 million net worth. It wasn’t until 2017 that the actress was again hospitalized for erratic behavior.
Barton was at her home in West Hollywood when she fell backward over a fence while yelling that got the attention of the neighbors, as reported by TMZ. “Oh my God, it’s over! I feel it, and it’s angry!” she reportedly yelled. First responders were called and Barton was taken to the hospital for a mental evaluation on January 26, 2017.
Christian Evans – Bi-Polar Disorder
In February 2017, former television personality Ricki Lake announced the death of her ex-husband, Christian Evans, on Instagram. Evans had bipolar disorder. In her touching message, Lake wrote “The world didn’t understand this man, but I did.” She continued, “He succumbed to his life-long struggle with bipolar disorder. For anyone who has ever lost a family member or friend to mental illness, my heart goes out to you.” The specific cause of death was not announced.
Lake and Evans started dating in 2010, married in 2012, and divorced in 2014. Lake cited “irreconcilable differences” in her divorce filing.