10 Celebrities Who Have Opened Up About Depression

Michelle Obama, Ben Affleck, and Demi Lovato have discussed their mental health

Celebrities seem to have it all—fame, money, good looks, or plain good luck—but they experience depression and other mental health problems just like their millions of fans do. Facing enormous pressure to appear perfect, public figures once kept their struggles with mental health private, but this tendency has changed dramatically in the 21st century. 

Today, actors, musicians, political figures, and even royalty have opened up about their battles with mood disorders, personality disorders, substance abuse, and grief. Their willingness to share their diagnoses with the public indicates that mental illness is not as taboo of a subject as it once was. It also sends the powerful message that depression does not discriminate. No one, not even the rich and famous, is immune to this serious mental health condition.

1

Kanye West

Kanye West

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Rapper, producer, and fashion designer Kanye West's mental health problems have been public for years.

In particular, the 2007 death of his mother, Donda West, which stemmed from heart disease and complications following plastic surgery, has haunted him. The musician has said that he blames himself for his mother’s demise because the pressures of life in Los Angeles, where she moved to manage his career, likely led her to seek out the procedures that led to her death.

In addition to grappling with grief over the loss of his mother, West has been open about receiving a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, a condition characterized by periods of mania and depression. West has spells where he reportedly spends nights “ranting about things” and working around the clock.

After his 2016 hospitalization for depression and paranoia, he was described as “increasingly becoming a powder keg of emotions.”  In 2019, West discussed his bipolar disorder with David Letterman, host of the Netflix series “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.”

West explained why it’s important for him to take his meds regularly. “If you don’t take medication every day to keep you at a certain state, you have a potential to ramp up, and it can take you to a point where you can even end up in the hospital,” he said. “And you start acting erratic, as TMZ would put it."

2

Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato

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Since the age of 7, singer Demi Lovato has dealt with suicidal thoughts and depression. On September 10, 2020, World Suicide Prevention Day, the pop star took to Twitter to share her history of mental illness with her fans. She assured them that “it is possible to see the light when you start the work on yourself."

Having weathered addiction, bulimia, and bipolar disorder, Lovato said that she’s “living proof that you never have to give into those thoughts.”

Her mother used to be afraid to wake her up in the morning for fear that she’d find her dead. Although Lovato has often struggled, she admitted, she told her fans that “you can get through whatever it is you’re going through.”

In partnership with the suicide prevention nonprofit Hope for the Day, Lovato also released a single called “OK Not To Be OK” with DJ and producer Marshmello to destigmatize mental illness. Lovato said that she is vocal about suffering from suicidal ideation and her other psychological struggles to let others know they’re not alone and that there is a way out.

In 2018, Lovato had a near fatal drug overdose and released a single called “Sober” about relapsing. She has linked some of her psychological disorders to her late birth father, whose mental illness prevented him from raising a family, she said.

"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,” she said in 2018. "And that sadness has been going away."

3

Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama

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Former First Lady Michelle Obama revealed in August 2020 that she was suffering from “low-grade depression” due to the COVID-19 pandemic, racial tensions, and political divisions in the United States.

Dysthymia, also called persistent depressive disorder or low-grade depression, isn’t as intense as major depression. It is characterized by fatigue, sadness, appetite changes, trouble concentrating, and sleep problems, among other symptoms less severe than they are in major depressive disorder (MDD).

"I'm waking up in the middle of the night because I'm worrying about something or there's a heaviness," she said. "I try to make sure I get a workout in, although there have been periods throughout this quarantine, where I just have felt too low."

Obama elaborated that the Memorial Day 2020 police killing of unarmed African American George Floyd distressed her, as does the fact that so many Americans refuse to wear masks to prevent spreading the novel coronavirus.

After receiving an onslaught of support from her fans, Obama posted on Instagram that she was “doing just fine.”

"The idea that what this country is going through shouldn't have any effect on us—that we all should just feel OK all the time—that just doesn't feel real to me,” she explained to her more than 40 million followers. “So I hope you all are allowing yourselves to feel whatever it is you're feeling."

Admired for her wit, style, and composure during her husband’s two terms in the White House, Michelle Obama has emotional ups and downs like everyone else.

4

Ben Affleck

Ben Affleck

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During a February 2020 interview with Diane Sawyer of Good Morning America, actor Ben Affleck disclosed that he had taken medication to manage his mental health.

"I get depressed," he said. "I take antidepressants. They’re very helpful for me... I’ve taken them since I was 26 years old, various different kinds, I’ve switched and tried this and tried that.”

Such a disclosure reduces stigma about taking prescription drugs to treat mental illness and reveals that it might be necessary to try different kinds and dosages of medication to see results. Affleck also discussed how some of the antidepressants he tried led to side effects such as weight gain.

In addition to depression, Affleck revealed that he experiences anxiety and abused substances to cope with his mental health problems. Today, he finds solace in attending religious services and spending time with his children.

“There are things that I would love to go back and change,” Affleck said. "I have regrets. I've made plenty of mistakes, some big, some small. I wish I could go back [in] time and change all kinds of things, but I can’t.”

5

Pete Davidson

Pete Davidson

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“Saturday Night Live” cast member Pete Davidson may make people laugh for a living, but the comedian fights depression every day, he says. In a February 2020 interview with radio personality Charlamagne Tha God, Davidson described himself as “depressed, all the time.”

He elaborated: “I have to constantly bring myself out of it. I wake up depressed, but now I know my steps. I have to go outside and be in sun for a little bit, or go for a walk. It’s all just programming yourself to trick your brain. ...I hit (rock bottom) all the time.”

He explained that a lack of self-care and abusing drugs such as psychedelic mushrooms and LSD typically worsen his mental state. Sleeplessness only adds to the problem, as he said that it makes him “go a little nuts.” He has also experienced suicidal ideation but is grateful that he’s never acted on the impulse.


Davidson said that a strong support system, career, and friends help him manage his mental illness.

Davidson also has borderline personality disorder (BPD), characterized by fear of abandonment, impulsive behavior, feelings of emptiness, identity disturbance, self-harm, intense anger, and other symptoms. By discussing his diagnosis, experts say the entertainer has helped to destigmatize BPD.

6

Taraji P. Henson

Taraji P. Henson

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Having suffered from anxiety and depression, Golden Globe-winner Taraji P. Henson has not only been vocal about her psychological problems but also about destigmatizing mental illness in the Black community.

Henson has survived the death of her father from cancer in 2006 and the murder of her son’s father in 2003. When she sees news headlines about the killings of young Black men, it makes her fear for her son’s life.

Henson told Self magazine in 2019 that her anxiety symptoms include heart palpitations, sweating, nervousness, rumination, and feelings of helplessness. Moreover, she described her depression as a condition that can be “hard to climb up out of.”

In 2018, the “Empire” star started a foundation that focuses on mental health in the African American population. As part of her advocacy, Henson testified before the Congressional Black Caucus’s forum on youth suicide in 2019. 

Henson acknowledged that she has been praised for being a young single mother who graduated from college and eked out a Hollywood career. Still, she said that she often struggled during her journey to fame and that the myth of the “strong Black woman” is more harmful than helpful.

“There are some times where I feel absolutely helpless,” she told Self. “That's human. Everybody feels like that. Just because I'm a Black woman, don't put that strong-superhero thing on me.”

Prayer, meditation, and therapy help Henson manage her depression and anxiety. She said she’s especially grateful to have found a Black woman therapist who is culturally competent and understands her life experiences. 

Meanwhile, experiencing menopause has ushered in more mental health problems, such as mood swings that make it hard for her to get out of bed some days, but she is navigating this life transition with the tools she already has in place. In December 2020, she began co-hosting a biweekly Facebook Watch series about mental health called “Peace of Mind with Taraji” with mental health advocate Tracie Jade. 

7

Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber

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One of the most revered pop stars in the world, Justin Bieber shocked many of his fans when he took to Instagram to detail the struggles he faced after he shot to fame as a 13-year-old. In a social media post, the singer described how he began to believe the non-stop praise he received from the public, which led him to develop a sense of entitlement.

He explained that he lacked a sense of personal responsibility for his behavior and “abused” his relationships. "I became resentful, disrespectful to women, and angry," he wrote. "I became distant to everyone who loved me... I felt like I could never turn it around."

Bieber admitted that he turned to drugs to cope, and his behavior became increasingly erratic. Finally, in 2014, he was arrested for vandalism, driving under the influence, and other charges.

“It's hard to get out of bed in the morning… when it feels like there's trouble after trouble after trouble," he stated on Instagram. "Sometimes, it can even get to the point where you don't even want to live anymore. Where you feel like it's never going to change." Hopelessness, suicidal ideation, and lack of energy are all symptoms of depression.

Bieber has described how his religious faith and the support of his loved ones helped him turn his life around. Moreover, in 2018, he married the model Hailey Baldwin.  

"It's taken me years to bounce back from all of these terrible decisions, fix broken relationships, and change relationship habits," he wrote. "Luckily, God blessed me with extraordinary people who love me for me. Now I am navigating the best season of my life: MARRIAGE!"

8

Demi Moore

Demi Moore

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In her 2019 memoir, "Inside Out," actress Demi Moore describes an unstable childhood, rape, substance abuse, and the breakdown of her marriage to Ashton Kutcher, which ended in 2013. Along with these traumatic events, Moore discusses the depression she experienced after she miscarried a six-month pregnancy and was unable to conceive afterward.

She blamed herself for the pregnancy loss because she drank shortly before and smoked shortly after finding out she was expecting. “I can’t even bring fully to words how lost, empty, desperate, confused (I was),” she said during a "Good Morning America" interview about her book. "I really lost sight of everything that was right in front of me, which is the family I had, and I think the weight that it put on Ashton.” 

Her substance abuse became so bad that she almost drowned after drinking heavily. She also abused Vicodin after dental surgery—but went through detox for addiction to the narcotic. Recovering from her miscarriage and her substance abuse addiction made her feel like she'd "lived through a war," and her depression deepened when her marriage fell apart.

However, Moore also cites her childhood trauma as the source of her pain. “I really know that there are parts of what occurred with this relationship ending that were a level of devastating for me that was really just about that relationship, it was really about my whole life," she told Diane Sawyer. “It was about being the 2-year-old who wasn’t safe, that this really represented that I’m not lovable, that I’m not deserving, and that’s not about him. That’s all just about me.”

9

Carrie Ann Inaba

Carrie Ann Inaba

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Dancer and television personality Carrie Ann Inaba revealed on CBS’s “The Talk” in 2018 that she has suffered from depression and taken medication to treat the condition.

“There was a time, a few years ago when my father died, four days before ‘Dancing with the Stars’ started, and I went through a whole bunch of problems,” she said. “I moved, and my fiancé and I broke up, and I had to go on antidepressants. You can’t judge people for being on meds because it’s very personal, and you have to make the choice that is right for you.”

Her medication, however, resulted in unpleasant side effects. For example, she said she began to hallucinate that she was repeatedly stabbing herself. After taking those meds for three months, she decided to speak up about how they made her feel and get a new prescription. She credits her support system with helping her make that decision.

With the new prescription, “They helped me find a new homeostasis and remember what it felt like to feel good… for me, it was very helpful, even though I had some struggles.”

10

Prince Harry

Prince Harry

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Losing his mother as a child sent Prince Harry of the British Royal Family into a tailspin when he grew older because he never really worked through his feelings about Princess Diana’s death, he revealed in a 2017 interview. He said that he turned to therapy to grapple with the loss of his mother, who died in a car accident in 1997.

Although Prince Harry did not use the word “depression” to describe his mental health, he said that he has experienced grief, panic, and rage and that his life devolved into “total chaos” for a two-year period.

"I just didn’t know what was wrong with me," he told Telegraph columnist Bryony Gordon in a podcast interview. He also admitted to having come “very close to total breakdown on numerous occasions when all sorts of grief and lies and misconceptions are coming to you from every angle.” 

The prince shared his experience for Heads Together, a mental health awareness initiative from the Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

“I can safely say that losing my mum at the age of 12, and therefore shutting down all of my emotions for the last 20 years, has had a quite serious effect on not only my personal life but my work as well,” he said.

“I thought that thinking of her was only going to make me sad and not going to bring her back. So from an emotional side, I was, like, Right, don’t ever let your emotions be part of anything,” the prince said.

But suppressing his emotions didn’t make them go away. He began making headlines for questionable decisions—but the controversies led him to some soul searching and serious conversations with loved ones. “All of a sudden, all of this grief that I have never processed started to come to the forefront and I was, like, There is actually a lot of stuff here that I need to deal with."

In particular, Harry said that his older brother, Prince William, helped him immensely. “For me, my brother, God bless him, has been an enormous support.”

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  1. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Dysthymia.

  2. National Institute of Mental Health. Borderline Personality Disorder. Updated December 2017.

  3. National Institute of Mental Health. Depression. Updated February 2018.