Content Warning: Discussion of eating disorders, PTSD, and other mental health conditions.
Have you ever watched a movie or a TV show and thought an actor or actress was really outstanding? Have you ever read a book and thought the author was a total genius? Or maybe, you have a favorite athlete that you think is incredible. I know I have. But oftentimes, what we don’t consider is what happens behind the scenes. Many famous figures live with mental health issues, and I’m here to tell you about some. When we see famous people, who we often tend to look up to, open up about their mental health, it can help us feel less alone and understand that we can be successful despite these obstacles. I hope you find this interesting!
J.K. Rowling: OCD
The acclaimed Harry Potter author struggled with obsessive-compulsive disorder during her teen years, and even based a character in one of her books off of the experience. An extremely private individual, Rowling has recently spoken out about her anxiety and how she dealt with the compulsions.
Ariana Grande: PTSD
After the bombing at her 2017 concert in Manchester, the musical phenom, who has risen to fame over the last decade for titles like Thank U, Next, 7 Rings, and recently Positions, came out to the public as having significant PTSD and anxiety after experiencing the violent event.
She has donated one million dollars to, and is a spokesperson for the therapy app, BetterHelp, which helps those seeking mental health help.
Michael Phelps: ADHD, Alcoholism
Quite possibly the greatest swimmer of all time and the most decorated Olympian in history, Phelps has had his share of ups and downs. As a child, he had trouble focusing and was extremely energetic, which led to a diagnosis of ADHD. After channeling that energy in the pool and achieving fame, Phelps had several DUI charges after turning to alcohol in early adulthood. Today, the athlete promotes a healthy, fit lifestyle, and he is actively involved in many charities and partnerships.
Tim Howard: Tourette’s Syndrome, OCD
I read Tim Howard’s memoir The Keeper, which was a moving account detailing the goalkeeper’s rise to international fame. What many do not realize, however, is that Howard’s childhood battle with Tourette’s Syndrome and OCD shaped him to be the man he is today. Unable to access therapy due to financial barriers as a child, Tim has donated a large amount of money to many organizations that help kids receive treatment for mental health disorders, such as the ones he lives with.
Howie Mandel: OCD
Comedian, Deal or No Deal Host, and America’s Got Talent Judge, Howie Mandel has opened up about his OCD and fear of germs over the past several years. Often embracing the title of “germaphobe,” Mandel takes his OCD in stride and has learned to cope with it, frequently implementing his experiences with it in comedy sets and interviews.
Ryan Lochte: Substance Use, Depression
After Lochte’s claims of being held at gunpoint at a gas station in Rio during the 2016 Olympics were found to be false, and it was found out that he vandalized the gas station after a wild night of drinking, the swimmer hit rock bottom. A couple of years later, Lochte posted a picture on Instagram of him receiving an injection of what he claimed were vitamins, but the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency imposed a 14-month sanction on him. After seeking help, he recently swam at the 2021 Olympic Trials, but unfortunately he did not make the team. He plans to continue swimming, and spend more time with his family.
Demi Lovato: Bulimia, Depression
Former Disney Channel star and singer, Lovato has had their share of issues. Being a child star took a toll on them, and in 2018 they had a drug overdose at age 25. After extensive rehab, Lovato came out about how turbulent their life had been, and their on and off struggle with bulimia. Recently coming out as bisexual and non-binary, they now live in California and perform, as well as work with fashion company Dior.
Leonardo DiCaprio: OCD
We all know DiCaprio’s original blockbuster film Titanic, but lesser known is his film The Aviator, in which he plays a billionaire with OCD. After the film, DiCaprio admitted he himself actually dealt with OCD, and could relate to his character’s need to repeat things and do things over and over again until it felt “right.” Nevertheless, OCD has not stopped one of Hollywood’s most beloved actors of the 21st century.
Emma Stone: Childhood Separation Anxiety, Generalized Anxiety
Notable actress Emma Stone lives with generalized anxiety, and in the past has struggled with separation anxiety. At a young age, she had her first panic attack when she was at a friend’s house and was convinced that it was burning down. She’s also shared that as a child, she was always anxious about being away from her mom. Stone likes to use meditation to observe her feelings and relax, as well as therapy.
Selena Gomez: Bipolar Disorder
Selena Gomez has racked up a record number of followers on social media, with an Instagram following of over 200 million. But being in the spotlight has taken a toll on Gomez, who has experienced depression for many years of her life and was in and out of treatment facilities. Last year, she was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. The star is currently creating new music and working with many charities, including being a UNICEF Ambassador.
Know that you are never alone and help is always available. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to get connected with a local crisis center.