The stigma of depression as something shameful or embarrassing often leads those who suffer from the disease to shun away from seeking help or telling others; they suffer silently. Kirsten Dunst may be the most recent high-profile celebrity to discuss her struggles with depression, but she’s not the only who has disclosed their bouts with the debilitating condition. Other celebrities like Christina Ricci, Jim Carrey, J.K. Rowling, and Mandy Moore among others have divulged in its hardships and are helping to ease the disease’s false associations as a “weakness” or “character flaw.” Click through to read about celebrities dealing with depression and learn more about the disorder affecting so many of us.
“Major depression is a serious medical illness affecting 15 million American adults, or approximately 5-8 percent of the adult population in a given year. Unlike normal emotional experiences of sadness, loss or passing mood states, major depression is persistent and can significantly interfere with an individual’s thoughts, behavior, mood, activity and physical health,” according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Obviously, depression affects a significant amount of the population; and it’s no surprise that there are celebrities affected as well.
In much the way Kirsten Dunst used her experience with depression to inform her depressed character in Melancholia, Christina Ricci did the same with Prozac Nation. She said she was able to get over her depression with the help of a psychiatrist. [via Now] Mandy Moore also admitted to Jane magazine in 2007 that she struggled with depression, even though she was usually “a very positive person.” [via People]
Other celebrities use their work to describe or deal with depression. Musician Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy dealt with depression for most of his life, and many Fall Out Boy lyrics are about his struggles, which included drug overdoses and suicide attempts. [via People] Author J.K. Rowling‘s bout with depression inspired her Harry Potter characters the Dementors — dark, hooded creatures. [via Huffington Post]
Jim Carrey, a man who is known for his comedic roles, admits to having chronic depression. He has taken anti-depressants and believes he is happier now because he was able to face the disorder and deal with how he was feeling, rather than keeping it to himself. [via CNN] Catherine Zeta-Jones sought help from a mental health facility earlier this year to deal with depression as part of a bi-polar diagnosis, as well. [via Telegraph]
Emma Thompson (Love Actually) admitted to suffering from mild depression to the Hollywood Reporter. “I think [depression] is a very common thing,” she said. “And it’s a very much hidden thing people don’t talk about. I think it should be discussed.”
Psychology professor Jonathan Rottenberg also believes it should be discussed more publicly, and describes his own personal vision for erasing the stigma of depression:
I would like to see a more revolutionary public education approach, with campaigns that emphasize the unique strengths that are required to endure depression. Even if a person is helped by drugs or therapy, grappling with a severe depression requires enormous courage. In many ways, a person who has emerged from the grip of depression has just passed the most severe of trials in the human experience. If we acknowledge that surviving depression requires a special toughness, we will see not see formerly depressed people as a broken legion, but as a resource who can teach us all about overcoming adversity.
Other celebrities that have discussed their depression include Angelina Jolie, Jon Hamm, Anne Hathaway, Demi Lovato, Sheryl Crowe, Russell Brand, and Gwyneth Paltrow. These people, who live so much of their lives in front of cameras and paparazzi, seem like good examples of Rottenberg’s analysis. They are people that have found success despite their mental struggles. Hopefully they are able to help relieve the burden of stigma on others that also suffer, and allow those to seek professional help.
If you think you might have depression, talk to a doctor or your trusted loved ones. Mental Health America also has good information regarding dealing with depression.
Do you also find these celebrities brave for discussing depression? Do you or someone you know suffer from the condition?