How to Face Depression With Olympic Gold Medalist Laurie Hernandez

Laurie Hernandez

Verywell / Julie Bang

Every Monday on The Verywell Mind Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Amy Morin, LCSW, interviews experts, authors, entrepreneurs, athletes, musicians, and other inspirational people about the strategies that help them think, feel, and do their best in life.

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Meet Laurie Hernandez

Laurie Hernadez is an Olympic gymnast. In 2016, she won a gold medal for the team event and a silver medal on the balance beam. 

After the Olympics, she took some time off from gymnastics and appeared on Dancing with Stars, which she won. She starred in an animated series on Nickelodeon called, Middle School Moguls. She’s also a New York Times bestselling author. 

She returned to gymnastics in 2018 with the hope of going to the Olympics. But just a few days before we recorded this episode, she got injured in competition and learned she would not be able to compete.

Why Laurie Hernandez Is Mentally Strong

Although Laurie is known for her giant smile (she’s been dubbed "the human emoji"), she’s been open about the stress she’s faced as a gymnast. 

She’s even come forward to talk about being diagnosed with depression and ADHD. She takes an antidepressant now and she shares how it has helped her feel a lot better. 

Laurie chose to make her story public even though she didn’t have to. 

She also partnered with Trulicity, a type 2 diabetes medication, as she chose to step forward and talk about her father’s experiences with managing his blood sugar. 

Many people talk about their struggles once they’re feeling much better. But Laurie chooses to talk about her experiences as her mental health treatment continues to unfold.

What You’ll Hear on the Show 

  • The specific pressures Laurie has faced as a gymnast
  • How she maintains a positive attitude after learning that she will not be able to compete in the Olympics
  • How you can be a happy person and still develop depression
  • How Laurie discovered she had depression
  • How she discovered she had ADHD (as an adult)
  • Why she decided to take antidepressants and the response she has received since making her story public
  • The pressure Laurie felt to ensure others approved of her emotions
  • How writing in a journal helps Laurie manage her mental health
  • The other creative outlets Laurie uses to build mental strength
  • Why it’s so important to reach out to your support system and what to do if you don’t have access to a mental health professional

What You’ll Learn About Mental Health and Mental Strength

Laurie is proof that anyone can be susceptible to a mental health issue. Despite being a successful athlete and growing up with a mother who is a therapist, she has experienced depression and ADHD.

Mental health issues aren’t a sign of weakness. Many strong, self-disciplined individuals develop mental health issues.

It certainly takes strength to acknowledge and face mental health issues; however, asking for help and seeking treatment requires courage. It’s much easier to ignore problems than it is to address them head-on. 

Quotes From Laurie

Laurie Hernandez

Honesty with your emotions and with your mental health is the most important thing. And if you're willing to share that with other people, it makes the burden so much lighter.

— Laurie Hernandez
  • If something feels off, it's good to talk about it.
  • Do your best to find a support system, whether that be a friend, a family member, a teacher, or a counselor. All of that is extremely helpful for finding different ways to cope.
  • Acknowledging that there is something [that feels] a little off is not a weakness.

More About the Podcast

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Reviews and ratings are a great way to encourage other people to listen and help them prioritize their mental health too.

Links and Resources

By Amy Morin, LCSW
Amy Morin, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk,  "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.