To the general public, celebrities seem to have it all: fame, money, looks, manifestation powers or even sheer luck. But as it turns out, a lifestyle of wealth and stardom doesn’t exactly mean you’re automatically shielded from mental health struggles. Behind closed doors, even the world’s biggest A-listers are hiding ongoing battles with severe mental health concerns, personality disorders and grief—often amplified by their fame.
Facing enormous pressure to appear ‘perfect’ while simultaneously subjected to public scrutiny with every single misstep, public figures have previously bottled up their struggles with mental health. But this is not the case anymore.
Here are ten celebrities who have been diagnosed with depression and have been vocal about their conditions, reminding us that mental health concerns can impact people of all ages and walks of life—but no one is alone in their battles, nevertheless.
On-screen, Chris Evans is portrayed as an American hero slinging his vibranium shield at enemies, including killer robots. But behind the Captain America costume, Evans has grappled with depression stemming from his debilitating anxiety—which has even led him to consider quitting his acting career.
During an appearance on The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast, Evans admitted how he began experiencing anxiety around 2007. Three years later, when he was filming Puncture, the condition had become severe. “It was the first time I started having mini panic attacks on set,” he said. “I really started to think, ‘I’m not sure if this [acting] is the right thing for me, I’m not sure if I’m feeling as healthy as I should be feeling’.”
In fact, when Marvel first offered him the test role of Captain America, initially demanding a nine-movie deal, Evans turned it down—afraid that the resultant fame would render his anxiety unmanageable. “My suffering would [be] my own,” the star explained. He turned the opportunity down multiple times despite higher salary offers and a decreased commitment to only six movies.
However, after speaking to his therapist, friends, family and even Robert Downey Jr. (who was already a Marvel star at the time), Evans reconsidered the role. “It was the best decision I’ve ever made, and I really owe that to Kevin Feige for being persistent and helping me avoid making a giant mistake,” he said. “To be honest, all the things that I was fearing never really came to fruition.”
With her “art-pop meets haute couture” wardrobe, genre-busting voice and ongoing rumours to play Harley Quinn for Joker 2, Lady Gaga seems like the very definition of courage and power. In an interview with Billboard, however, the ‘Bad Romance’ singer admitted, “I’ve suffered through depression and anxiety my entire life, I still suffer with it every single day. I just want these kids to know that that depth that they feel as human beings is normal. We were born that way. This modern thing, where everyone is feeling shallow and less connected? That’s not human.”
Establishing her Born This Way Foundation—a nonprofit which seeks to empower, inspire bravery and provide resources for young people dealing with depression, severe anxiety and bullying—the pop star has evolved into a strong advocate for mental health today.
Back in 2007, comedy megastar Owen Wilson shocked the public when he attempted suicide at his home in Santa Monica. “It’s impossible,” Wilson’s longtime producer friend Polly Platt told People at the time. “He’s far too full of life and is at the prime of his career.”
Although 11 weeks later the publication reported that the actor had been devastated about his breakup with Kate Hudson, he had since “bounced back,” and later decided to come clean about his years-long battle with depression and drug addiction. The Wedding Crashers star has since slowed his career to focus on his health—presently crediting antidepressants and his two sons for keeping him grounded.
“I’ve been in sort of a lucky place of feeling pretty appreciative of things,” he told Esquire in 2021. “I know everything’s kind of up and down, but when you get on one of these waves, you’ve gotta ride it as long as you can… Feeling pretty grateful. Well, grateful is one of those words that get used all the time. Appreciative. Of, you know, stuff.”
Ever since the age of seven, Demi Lovato has dealt with suicidal thoughts and depression. In 2010, the ‘Confident’ singer checked themselves into a residential treatment facility following their struggle with anorexia, bulimia and bipolar disorder.
“Looking back it makes sense. There were times when I was so manic, I was writing seven songs in one night and I’d be up until 5.30 in the morning,” they said in an interview with People. “I feel like I am in control now where my whole life I wasn’t in control.”
Eight years later, Lovato had a near-fatal drug overdose and released a single called ‘Sober’ about relapsing. They have also linked some of their psychological concerns to their late birth father, whose mental health condition prevented him from raising a family. “Now I’ve got older and I’ve been able to grieve the loss of him and I’ve been able to step back and look from a distance that he was mentally ill and it wasn’t his heart that meant to abandon me. I’ve been able to overcome his loss and understand where everything went wrong,” they told Dr. Phil. “And that sadness has been going away.”
From Jumanji and G.I. Joe: Retaliation to the Fast and Furious franchise, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is undoubtedly one of the biggest action movie stars on the planet today. In an interview with People, however, the actor spoke about his struggle with mental health and outlined how there’s nothing “unmanly” about reaching out to others when you need help.
“The first time I had experienced depression, I was 18 years old and I had no idea what depression was,” he admitted. “Back then, depression was also called ‘get off the couch and get your shit together and change what’s happening here’.” The actor, who saved his mother from a suicide attempt when he was 15, has also been vocal about mental health acros social media platforms.
“Depression never discriminates,” he once tweeted. “Took me a long time to realise it but the key is to not be afraid to open up. Especially us dudes have a tendency to keep it in. You’re not alone.”
American actor Channing Tatum has been very transparent about how his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and dyslexia diagnosis has impacted his childhood. But in a 2013 interview with Vanity Fair, the Step Up star also admitted that the stimulants prescribed to help him focus in school eventually led him to develop depression at a very young age.
“I truly believe some people need medication,” he said. “I did not. I did better at school when I was on it, but it made me a zombie. You become obsessive. Dexedrine, Adderall—it’s like any other drug.”
In fact, the impact of the medications was so severe that it even influenced Tatum’s parenting choices. In the interview, the star admitted that he would “never do it” to his child as a result of his own experiences with the drugs. “The more you do, the less it works,” he continued. “For a time, it would work well. Then it worked less and my pain was more. I would go through wild bouts of depression [and] horrible comedowns. I understand why kids kill themselves. I absolutely do. You feel terrible. You feel soul-less. I’d never do it to my child.”
From Grinch to Ace Ventura, Jim Carrey easily makes the cut as one of history’s most influential comedians. But in an interview with 60 Minutes, the Canadian-American actor and comedian shocked the world when he acknowledged that he has spent much of his life battling depression.
After the second of his two failed marriages, Carrey sought the help of a psychiatrist who prescribed him Prozac. “I was on Prozac for a long time. It may have helped me out of a jam for a little bit, but people stay on it forever,” the star said. “I had to get off at a certain point because I realised that, you know, everything’s just okay. There are peaks, there are valleys. But they’re all kind of carved and smoothed out, and it feels like a low level of despair you live in. Where you’re not getting any answers, but you’re living okay.” Carrey presently credits a healthy diet, natural supplements and the spiritual side of his life for his improved mental health.
Shortly after welcoming her first child with Orlando Bloom, American singer, songwriter and actress Katy Perry opened up about her experiences with motherhood and depression. Recalling her mental health in 2017, Katy told CBS, “I started writing these songs when I was in my darkest place. I was clinically depressed, I wasn’t even having bouts of depression, it was like I could not get out [of] bed.”
The ‘Firework’ singer continued by stating how her condition was a combination of a lot of events in her life at the time. “In 2017, my career didn’t really meet my own personal expectations, things started to shift, and I had broken up with Orlando. I wasn’t getting high off of my own supply anymore and then I was like, ‘Oh wow, I’ve given all of the responsibility of my self-worth outward’.” Perry then went on to say that she was “always getting some form of help” for her mental health, adding that she was also “fantasising about not being around.”
“You start thinking about things like that and if I did that, I would kinda have the last word or be able to control the chaos and the sadness,” she admitted. “I’m so grateful that it didn’t go there.”
For decades, American-Canadian actor and comedian Matthew Perry has made his audience howl with laughter as Chandler Bing on the hit show Friends. Behind closed doors, however, the star was battling severe depression that ultimately led to debilitating addiction issues. Perry, who once described his time on Friends as the worst and loneliest years of his life, first checked himself into rehab in 1997 to treat his addiction to prescription pills after getting hooked following a jet-ski accident.
He then returned in 2001 to deal with Vicodin, methadone, amphetamines and alcohol addictions. “I don’t remember three years of it [Friends],” he told BBC Radio 2 in 2016. “So none of those… Somewhere between Season 3 and 6… I was a little out of it.” The same year, rumours surfaced that Perry was “struggling” while working on a play in London after pictures of him smoking a cigarette and “talking to himself” circulated online.
It was only when his co-stars began to catch on and the media began reporting his troubles that the star finally began his slow path to recovery.
As one of the world’s most beloved people, Dolly Parton has had her heartbreaking share of struggles with mental health. In an episode of Jad Abumrad’s nine-part podcast Dolly Parton’s America, the queen of country music shared a vulnerable moment in her life when she contemplated suicide.
“I got overweight and I was going through [a] change of life. I was having a lot [of] female problems, I’d been going through a whole lot of family things, just the stress, the heartache,” she said. “There [were] just several things going on at that time. I was just broken down.” While Parton did not elaborate on her health problems at the time, the star had to cancel a tour in 1982 following abdominal pain and bleeding. In 1984, she had a partial hysterectomy and was told she would never be able to have children, which led to her bouts with depression. “Sometimes God just has to smack you down,” Parton told Closer Weekly. “He was almost saying, ‘Sit your pretty little ass down because we have to deal with some stuff!’.”
As Parton embarked on her road to recovery, she told The Mirror that she has to be “wary” of depression, which runs in her family. “It’s usually brought on by something that’s going on in the family and if there are problems sometimes it’s a lot for one little person to carry,” she explained. “People are always saying to me I’m happy all the time. But nobody is happy all the time. I am a tender-hearted person and I feel everything to the ninth degree. Every once in a while I just feel you know… sad-hearted and melancholy.”