What is depression?
Depression is a serious mood condition. It can cause a person to experience feelings of hopelessness, fear, and anxiety that last beyond a few weeks.
Depression is one of the most common types of mental disorders. But people are often afraid to admit that they struggle with it and the related feelings. However, there are many celebrities who have been open about their depression, and how it didn’t match with their public personas.
Jim Carrey is known as a funny man with an endlessly elastic face, but this star of hits such as “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” “The Mask,” and “Liar, Liar” has openly discussed his struggles with depression. In 2004, Carrey began to share details of his battle with depression, telling a CBS interviewer that he discovered his sense of humor out of a place of sadness: “I had a sick mom, man. I wanted to make her feel better.”
Although J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter book series, is one of the most famous and successful authors in the world, she has experienced significant struggles. In her 20s, she was a newly single mom and struggling writer. Rowling has spoken about these dark times, and even acknowledged that she had thoughts of suicide.
Rowling sought treatment in the form of cognitive behavioral therapy. This therapy involves helping a person identify thoughts that may be harmful and making behavioral changes that support a better state of mental health.
Rowling continues to speak on the importance of being open about struggles with mental illness, saying: “I have never been remotely ashamed of having been depressed. Never. What’s there to be ashamed of? I went through a really tough time and I am quite proud that I got out of that.”
Actress and Oscar winner Halle Berry acknowledges her divorce from then-husband David Justice sent her into a deep depression, for which she turned to therapy. She credits her continued therapy sessions with helping her learn to face and work through depressive thoughts, saying: “People still associate therapy with being crazy. But I think you’re crazy if you won’t consider going to get help for yourself — to learn the tools to deal with the problems in your life.”
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin has walked on the moon, but with all his accomplishments, he is also very open about his mental health. He has discussed his experiences with depression as well as alcoholism. In 2016, he celebrated 37 years of sobriety. In an interview with UK newspaper Telegraph, Aldrin said: “I have gained so much by facing adversity. I had a shrink who said, ‘Buzz, you are so lucky that you had to change, to grow. You are a better person now.’”
Brooke Shields has been a well-known model and actress since her teenage years. In her book “Down Came the Rain,” Shields detailed her struggles with postpartum depression. Shields shared that her symptoms included difficulty feeling a bond with her baby, frequent crying spells, and “rage” and “hatred” in some moments.
Shields initially dismissed her symptoms as the baby blues, but later she realized they were due to postpartum depression.
In an interview with Oprah, she urged moms to seek help if they experience these symptoms: “It has nothing to do with your love for [your children] … It is something that is in your body, the loss of estrogen, the amount of hormones … You don’t have to be miserable.”
Comedian and “Let’s Make a Deal” host Wayne Brady has been open about his years-long struggles with depression. Brady said he would experience weeks at a time of prolonged sadness. He felt extreme feelings of self-doubt and fear that led to what he called a “breakdown” on his 42nd birthday. He told Entertainment Tonight: “It starts this cycle where you tell yourself these lies … and those lies become true to you. So you stick to your own truth you’ve set up: ‘If I’m this bad, then why should any of this matter?’”
Brady credits the support of his friends and family for helping him through these dark times and urges others to share their feelings and fears with loved ones.
Actress Kristen Bell has emphasized the importance of support for those with mental illness, saying that getting treatment for mental illness is just as important as seeking treatment for a physical illness. In an essay for Time magazine, Bell wrote “I felt worthless, like I had nothing to offer, like I was a failure. Now after seeking help, I can see that those thoughts, of course, couldn’t have been more wrong.” She says that it’s important to remember that no one is perfect and even a person with a seemingly perfect life can struggle with depression.
Oscar winner, actress, and owner of lifestyle site Goop.com, Gwyneth Paltrow has had many accomplishments to celebrate in her life. Yet she struggled with postpartum depression after the birth of her son Moses (her second child) in 2006. She wrote on her website, “I was confronted with one of the darkest and most painfully debilitating chapters of my life.”
Paltrow’s experience with postpartum depression proves that women can experience postpartum depression after giving birth to their first child or their fifth.
Grammy-winning rapper Kendrick Lamar has a successful music career, and he’s used his music to speak about his personal struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts. In an interview with Rolling Stone he said, “As a kid from Compton, you can get all the success in the world and still question your worth.” In his song u he talks about his self-doubt: “There’s some very dark moments in there. All my insecurities and selfishness and letdowns … But it helps.”
Actress Kerry Washington may star in one of television’s most popular and acclaimed dramas “Scandal,” but she told Essence magazine that she has struggled with depression. She has detailed feelings of fear as well as stress and anxiety due to her mother’s battle with breast cancer. She has also struggled with an eating disorder, attempting to control her life through the foods that she eats. However, Washington has turned to therapy, meditation, and seeing a nutritionist regularly for support. She told Essence magazine, “No matter how bad things are … I know that the other side is going to be better. Maybe even miraculously better. I hold on to that.”