15 Inspiring Things Celebrities Have Said About Dealing With Anxiety
Anxiety is incredibly common
If you have anxiety it can seem like everyone else is happy, stress-free, and bursting with confidence—particularly celebrities. And why shouldn't they be? They're gorgeous, talented, and have the wealth and resources to make magic happen in their lives every day. But anxiety isn't like that. It can strike anyone, at any time, and for no apparent reason. Anxiety disorders affect about 18% of adults in the United States, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. That means more than 40 million people have problems—panic attacks, social phobias, and obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms—severe enough to be classified as a disorder. Millions more feel anxious, but fall short of an actual diagnosis. Over the years, celebrities have been more open about their own anxiety, helping to fight stigma and let fans and viewers know they’re not alone. Here, 15 celebrities who have talked about their own anxiety and depression.
Kristen Stewart, on rolling with the punches
Kristen Stewart, best known for her roles in movies like Twilight and Snow White and the Huntsman, had panic attacks and stomachaches when she was younger. Now, she says, she’s grown out of the symptoms but still worries they could return at any time. “I obviously hope everything going on right now will work out, but I am confident that life is good and I'll be OK whatever happens. So in moments when that [life] is cloudy and I feel saturated and unable to engage in how good life can be, however consuming those feelings are, they are so momentary…I'm think pretty good at being happy,” she told Elle in 2016.
Kristen Bell, on taking medication
Kristen Bell, best known for her starring role on Veronica Mars, has a family history of serotonin imbalance, and she's not the only one in her family to suffer from anxiety and depression. The actress hid her battle for the first 15 years of her career, but has recently spoken out about taking medication for depression, which she has done since she was young. “I still take it today and I have no shame in that, because my mom had said to me, ‘If you start to feel this way, talk to your doctor, talk to a psychologist, see how you want to help yourself,” she said on Off Camera, an interview-based television show, in 2016.
Demi Lovato, who got her start on the Disney Channel and in the movie Camp Rock, is now best known for her music, with hit singles like “Heart Attack” and “Cool for the Sumer.” The songstress, who checked into a rehabilitation facility in 2011, has been vocal about her struggles with substance abuse, eating disorders, anxiety, and depression. “I think the more people vocalize what they’re going through — their experience or just simply educating themselves so that they can learn more about what they’re talking about — that’s going to be the key to creating a conversation about mental illness and making it more understood. There’s a lack of compassion for people who have mental illnesses and there’s a lot of judgment. Once you make people realize that mental illness can happen to anybody — and it’s not anybody’s fault — then I think they’ll become more understanding of what mental illness really is," she told Huffington Post in 2015.
Lady Gaga, on how to say no
Lady Gaga, best known for her pop hits like “Bad Romance” and “Poker Face,” among others, says she’s suffered from anxiety and depression her whole life. The singer launched the Born This Way Foundation to help her fans cope with their own mental health problems. In a talk at Yale University in 2015, she spoke about how she changed her decision-making to help overcome negative feelings. “I started to say no. I'm not doing that. I don't want to do that. I'm not taking that picture, I'm not going to that event, I'm not standing by that because that's not what I stand for. And slowly but surely, I remembered who I am. And then you go home, and you look in the mirror, and you're like, 'Yes. I can go to bed with you every night.' Because that person, I know that person.”
Adele, on using humor
Adele is best known for her powerful singing voice and big hits that include “Someone Like You” and “Hello.” But the songstress told Rolling Stone in 2011 that she has had anxiety attacks and even thrown up before taking the stage. "I just think that nothing's ever gone horrifically wrong. Also, when I get nervous, I try to bust jokes. It does work."
Lena Dunham, on dealing with negative people
Lena Dunham, well known for writing and acting in the HBO television series Girls, has also penned two books about her college years: Not That Kind of Girl and Is It Evil Not to Be Sure? The writer and actress posted a workout selfie to Instagram that included a caption about how exercise calms her anxiety symptoms. In a 2014 interview with the Guardian, she talked about her anxiety, the fact that she has been in therapy since childhood, and body acceptance issues. "You know, it gets easier and easier. My fears came true: people called me fat and hideous, and I lived. And now I keep living."
Sarah Silverman, on finding inner strength
As a comedian, Silverman has written and performed on Saturday Night Live as well as on her own Comedy Central show, The Sarah Silverman Program. She’s spoken openly about her lifelong battle with depression and her use of medications like Xanax, Klonopin, and Zoloft. “But if you ever experience it, or are experiencing it right now, just know that on the other side, the little joys in life will be that much sweeter," she said in an interview with Glamour in 2015. "The tough times, the days when you're just a ball on the floor—they'll pass. You're playing the long game, and life is totally worth it.”
Emma Stone, on using what you love
Emma Stone has acted in movies like Crazy, Stupid, Love; The Help; and Birdman, and has been nominated for an Academy Award and two Golden Globes. But she's also been open about her frequent panic attacks. While she went to a therapist, she found that acting was the biggest help when it came to battling anxiety. “There’s something about the immediacy of acting," she said in a 2015 interview with Wall Street Journal. "You can’t afford to think about a million other things. You have to think about the task at hand. Acting forces me to sort of be like a Zen master: What is happening right in this moment?”
Dan Harris, on the power of meditation
Dan Harris is a co-anchor on ABC’s Nightline program and a weekend correspondent on Good Morning America. In 2004, Harris suffered from a panic attack while on the air. In 2014, he wrote a New York Times bestseller about his battle with anxiety called 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress without Losing My Edge and Found Self-Help That Actually Works. “Self-help gurus are constantly telling us that we can get anything we want through the "power of positive thinking." This is an unrealistic and potentially damaging message, I think," he said on ABC in 2014. "By contrast, meditation is a doable, realistic, scientifically researched way to get significantly happier, calmer, and nicer.”
Khloe Kardashian, on how exercise can help
The youngest member of the Kardashian sister trio is best known for her fitness transformation, in which she dropped 40 pounds and gained killer abs. Kardashian had called fitness her therapy, especially after her ex-husband Lamar Odom was hospitalized due to a drug overdose. "I promise you, the gym has taken away so much of my stress. It has helped calm me down. When I'm fidgety and I just feel like everything is closing in, I go to the gym," she said in a 2015 interview with Marie Claire. You're building endorphins and feeling good about yourself. It's saved me."
Ashley Benson, on lifestyle changes that help
Benson, known for her role as Hanna Marin on Pretty Little Liars, has also starred in the movie Spring Breakers alongside Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez. As Health’s January cover star, she’s spoken about her continuing body confidence journey and suffering from panic attacks while on set. “I was on Xanax for a long time. It helped, but I decided I was going to be able to self-medicate through meditation, working out, sleeping, eating healthy and drinking more water," she told Health. "I have this meditation app on my phone. I use it at least three times a week.”
John Green, on overcoming difficult times
John Green has had plenty of success as an author, writing bestsellers like The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns, which have both been adapted for the big screen. In 2015, he talked on Reddit about his mental health issues, medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, and how he copes with anxiety. “I just have to integrate it into my life, as I would for any chronic illness. That can be difficult during periods like this one where work stuff is extremely public and extremely intense, but it helps tremendously that this is something I'm choosing to do," he said. "I'm not contractually obligated to do anything on behalf of the movie [The Fault in Our Stars]; I just really like it and want it to reach a lot of people. So focusing on why I'm doing this is helpful to me…”
Royce White, on being honest with others
As a professional basketball player in the NBA, White has played for the Sacramento Kings and the Houston Rockets as a power forward. In the 2012-2013 season, White had to take a leave of absence due to his battle with mental illness, specifically anxiety. "People ask me about anxiety—I tell them to get diagnosed and get help," he said in a 2013 interview with Men's Journal. "You can't just take Tylenol to deal with it. Being able to be level with people, being honest about your problem – that is a huge help."
LeAnn Rimes, on getting the help you need
As a country pop star, LeAnn Rimes has won two Grammys, 12 Billboard Music Awards, and one Country Music Award. She’s known for songs like “Blue” and “We Can” of Legally Blonde 2-soundtrack fame. In a 2012 interview with People, she talked about entering treatment for anxiety and stress. " This is just a time for me to emotionally check out for a second and take care of myself and come back in 30 days as the best 30-year-old woman I can be," she said. "All the things in my life will be there when I get out, but you know what? I'm hoping they're not going to affect me as much. I'll have the tools to know how to deal with them."
Jennifer Lawrence, on focusing on what's important
Since rising to stardom as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, Lawrence has starred in her fair share of movies, like Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle, and Joy. She got her start in the 2010 film Winter’s Bone. In a New York Times interview in 2015, she talked about how she deals with anxiety. “I find a certain peace by thinking of me in public as sort of an avatar self. You out there can have the avatar me. I can keep me. And I just try to acknowledge that this scrutiny is stressful, and that anyone would find it stressful. So I’ve got to try to let it go, and try to be myself, and focus on important things, like picking up dog poop.”