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Celebrities Speak Out About Their Own Mental Health Disorders

Updated on January 5, 2015

Mental Health

The prevalence of mental health issues are on the rise in the US.

Statistics show that one in four people will have a mental illness at any given point in a year.

That may send some to wonder how celebrities dodge that bullet. Well the truth is they do not. Mental illness does not choose victims and it is not certainly connected to Karma. But what is known about mental illness, treatment is essential in reducing and regulating symptoms.

Below I depict how some celebrities identified personal struggles with mental health concerns. Some of them acknowledged having a severe mental illness.

For me one common thread between these individuals are that they have the finances to afford the best treatment, they did not give up and that they have support. So you might say, well I don’t have that kind of money, support or courage. My answer would be that getting treatment and your own education about the disorder could be just as helpful and valuable to your own recovery. So if you or someone you know is stressed about mental illness remember that treatment, support and perseverance is essential.


Catherine Zeta Jones

A well known actress, recognized for her roles in “The Mask of Zorro,” “Entrapment,” and “Traffic” announced on public television with the support of her husband Michael Douglas that she was diagnosed with bipolar II. This disorder is distinguished by moods labeled as “highs and lows,” though; with bipolar II the highs do not reach full mania.


Mel Gibson

Known for his on-screen and off-screen shenanigans, expressed openly in 2008 that he was diagnosed as “manic depressive” better known as bipolar disorder. Like Catherine, he experiences the highs and lows, yet Mel does reach full on manic episodes and thereby likely needs more psychological treatment.


Brooke Shields

Defined beauty of the 80’s, discussed experiencing prolonged “baby blues” or postpartum depression in 2003 after the birth of her daughter. Postpartum depression is experienced by many women and is defined by an extended feeling of depression and anxiety that may affect ones ability to care for their newborn child.


John Nash

Played by Russell Crowe in the movie “A Beautiful Mind,” depicted the genius professor who was diagnosed with schizophrenia. One of the many severe mental health disorders, schizophrenia is a disorder that individuals experience delusional thoughts and hallucinations. Despite this overwhelming disorder John was one of the most successful professors who taught at Princeton University and eventually won the Nobel Prize.

John Nash: A professor diagnosed with schizophrenia


Herschel Walker

One the best running backs that played for the NFL from 1986 to 1997 for various teams have discussed living with Dissociative Identity Disorder. This disorder formerly known as “Multiple Personalities,” also well depicted in the movie “Sybil” defines a person who lives with two or more distinct identities. The fluctuation between identities serves as a defense mechanism and each identity may or may not be known to the other. Many times this disorder is diagnosed after a person seeks medical treatment for gaps and lapses in memories.


Michael Phelps

Diagnosed at the age of 9 with ADHD has overcome his inattentiveness to become a world champion many times over using his stellar aquatic abilities.


Paula Deen

A Southern Bell and famous chef, recently known for her racist comments has exposed her conflict with panic attacks and agoraphobia. Panic disorders commonly do not have an origin of where the anxiety comes from and the agoraphobia identifies the fear of going to places where there is fear of having a panic attack, especially areas that lead to additional fear of no escape.


Elton John

A one of a kind musician, divulged to Larry King Live in 2002 that he has battled with both substance abuse and bulimia. Bulimia, an eating disorder, classified by binging on large amounts of food and then purging by either inducing vomiting or taking laxatives in order to control weight.


Sinead O’Connor

A well known for her shaved head and 90’s hit “Nothing Compares 2 U” discussed in 2007 at the age of 44 that she had received treatment for bipolar disorder and that she had struggled with suicidal thoughts all the way back to her early 20’s.


Kurt Cobain

Worldly known as the lead singer of the alternative rock band Nirvana and especially known for his suicide. He was assumed to have undiagnosed depression that some viewed led to his behavior that ultimately took his life. However, a family member did account that he was diagnosed as a child with ADHD and later with bipolar disorder.

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All of the above individuals have shown great courage and triumph over mental health concerns. This demonstrated that it takes more than money to get a hold on mental health issues. It also takes determination and acceptance that mental illness can affect anyone no matter their stature. So rather than crumbling in fear all of the aforementioned individuals spoke out about their issues in the hope of helping others. So the main point is to seek help. If you or someone you know may be experiencing mental health issues seeking professional help is key to recover and maintenance of the illness.


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    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 

      4 years ago from New Jersey

      I wish mental illness was treated more like a "real" problem in the U.S., because it is. Many of us have relatives or friends who need medication and help, and just won't get it. It tears apart families, and the people with the disorders are not always taken seriously. My brother is bi-polar and drug addicted, to the point we can't really do anything with him, he decided to shun the family when we urged he get more help. It's brave of people with mental illnesses to speak out, I'm glad it is becoming less of a stigma. The more people talk about it, the more attention they bring to the issue.


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