There’s often an assumption that by having reached the upper echelons of society and success celebrities are somehow immune to the frailties that trouble the rest of us. But that’s simply not the case. If anything, many of those who we look up to in the public eye as being great entertainers and spokespeople for their particular generation or demographic, are either just as much or more susceptible to the onset of mental health conditions as the rest of us. Mental illness neither discriminates nor is it selective about who it targets – if we’re to personify it for the purpose of this example. Here are seven celebrities who’ve opened up about their battles with their depression, which goes to show we’re all human, and we’re all made of the same emotional stuff.
1. Kanye West
Kanye West is someone who’s never been shy about speaking his mind on a given subject matter, seeming almost untouchable. However, the rapper, producer and fashion designer was hospitalised back in 2016 for depression and paranoia. The resulting battle with mental health was reportedly attributed to the death of his mother Donda West in 2007 for which he held himself responsible. He cited her move to Los Angeles to manage his career, a place renowned for inducing pressure and stress as a key factor in her death. Kanye has also been very public about his battles with bipolar disorder.
2. Ben Affleck
In February of 2020, American Actor Ben Affleck opened up in an interview with Good Morning America about his need to take medication to manage his mental health. He said of this, “I get depressed […] I take anti-depressants. They’re helpful for me… I’ve taken them since I was 26 years old, various kinds, I’ve switched and tried this and tried that.” Affleck also goes on to talk about the side effects of taking medication such as weight gain and also goes in detail in the same interview about his experiences with anxiety. Given his previous larger than life role as Batman, you’d think the man behind the costume was impervious. But these roles are just characters, the real people behind them are really no different to the rest of us.
3. Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber is someone who needs no introduction whether you’re a fan of his music of not. And he perfectly illustrates the pressures that finding stardom – especially at such a young age – can have on your psyche. Back in 2013, the singer took to Instagram to reveal the struggles that he faced as he came to terms with his new-found fame. He talked about the sense of entitlement, which stemmed from the near-constant praise he received from those around him and resulted in a decline in his ability to maintain his relationships. This led to a downward spiral and series of erratic behaviours which were all the hallmarks of hopelessness – a clear sign of depression.
4. Prince Harry
This may or may not seem like a case of stating the obvious depending on what generation you fall into. But the resulting emotional distress that he’s talked about at length when he describes his mental health is likened to panic, grief, and rage. This, of course, is in relation to the passing of his mother, Princess Diana, back in 1997. And although he never explicitly cites depression as the cause of his issues, Harry has talked at length about having come “very close to a breakdown on numerous occasions” and also of having to suppress his emotions. This, then, eventually has led to him confiding in his family and properly addressing his past trauma.
5. Jim Carrey
Actor and comedian Jim Carrey, in some ways, typifies the archetype of the tragic funny man. He’s been known for being a larger-than-life character in many of movies, but in recent years has decided to break his silence about his mental health. In an interview with 60 minutes, he shared, that, he has, in fact, struggled with depression for most of his life. He went on to share details of how suffering from a second failed marriage, he sought the help of a psychiatrist who prescribed him Prozac to help alleviate his symptoms. Carry cites this as helping him out of a cycle that was holding him back internally. Although, he was also sure to mention that he knew at one point he had to “get off Prozac at a certain point,” realising he couldn’t be one of those people who stay in it forever.
6. Ellen Degeneres
Ellen is someone who’s issues have had more to do with external stigmatism than it has about with anything of more internal nature. After she famously revealed she was gay in an episode of her self-titled hit sitcom in 1998 as part of the then storyline, she was dropped from the network. This led to what Ellen describes as “everything she ever feared.” After being dropped from her studio after five years, for no other reason than being gay, it caused her to fall into a “deep, deep, depression.” She’s been very open about this journey over the years, and is an example of someone who’s been able to overcome persecution to enjoy an even more successful career as a talk show host while being true to herself.
7. Chris Evans
Another actor and another person who appears to play a near-impervious figure as Captain America in the Marvel film franchise. But Chris Evans, the man, has been no stranger to the effects that depression can have on you, which he’s been more than willing to talk openly about in the press junket for many of the movies he’s starred in. He’s cited his issues to be somewhat ongoing and even went as far as to share that he spent three weeks in India with a guru to help him quiet his mind. He’s talked quite passionately about how anyone can use these meditation practices to take back control of lives and actively encourages people who are struggling with their mental health to seek help anywhere they can.