Stars Who Have Opened Up About Dealing With Anxiety

7:51 AM 7/19/2018

by Jillian Forstadt

Ryan Reynolds, Ariana Grande, Emma Stone and Hugh Grant are just some of the high-profile public figures who have gone public with their mental-health issues.

From left: Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg, Lena Dunham
From left: Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg, Lena Dunham
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images; Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images; Walter McBride/WireImage

Approximately 18 percent of American adults deal with anxiety, including a number of Hollywood stars and entertainment industry figures.

While an omnipresent stigma has kept many famous faces from sharing their mental health struggles, more and more stars have come forward in recent years, with Ryan Reynolds and Carson Daly among the notable names speaking out just in the past few months.

Emma Stone, Lena Dunham and Jesse Eisenberg have teamed up with the Child Mind Institute to promote a campaign for mental health awareness. In their #MyYoungerSelf videos, a number of Hollywood stars share their experiences with mental illness, encouraging those suffering from anxiety disorders to seek treatment. Others have taken to their personal platforms to tell their stories, often in an effort to dispel any taboos that surround the topic. 

With Hollywood in its own age of anxiety, read on to see how some of the industry's stars deal with their own psychological issues.

  • Kristen Bell

    Tommaso Boddi/WireImage

    For the first 15 years of her career, the actress kept her struggles with anxiety and depression out of the public eye. In a 2016 personal essay published by Motto, Bell finally opened up about dealing with mental illness while in drama school.

    "I was at New York University, I was paying my bills on time, I had friends and ambition — but for some reason, there was something intangible dragging me down," the actress wrote. "Luckily, thanks to my mom, I knew that help was out there — and to seek it without shame."

    In her #MyYoungerSelf video for the Child Mind Institute, Bell warns of social media as it can distort reality. 

    "Don't be fooled by this game of perfection that humans play," the actress says in the video. "Because of Instagram and magazines and TV shows, they strive for a certain aesthetic, and everything looks so beautiful, and people seem like they don't have any problems, but everyone's human. Everyone has problems."

     

  • Rachel Bloom

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    The Crazy Ex-Girlfriend actress faced some of her worst bouts of anxiety during the early stages of the CW series, which she also created and produces. In a personal essay published in Glamour, Bloom discusses the anxiety that consumed her while she was pitching the pilot to networks.

    "I have anxiety about anxiety, then I worry the anxiety will ruin my life. It's a snake-eats-tail loop," she wrote. "But in opening up to others, I found a lot of people have felt the same way."

    Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has been praised for its depiction of characters managing mental illness. Like her character on the show, Bloom attends therapy and says she finds meditation most helpful in balancing her anxiety.
      

  • Carson Daly

    The television host recently sat down with his Today show colleagues to discuss his journey with generalized anxiety disorder.

    "I've been nervous my whole life," Daly said. "My very first panic attack happened — and, by the way, I had no idea what it was at the time — when I was a host at MTV."

    Daly talked about experiencing such severe panic attacks that he admitted himself to the hospital, not knowing how to manage his anxiety.

    In the segment, Daly demonstrated how muscle tension and relaxation techniques have helped him alleviate the effects of anxiety.


     

  • Lena Dunham

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    Both Dunham and her Girls character Hannah Horvath live with anxiety. In a live talk in 2017, Dunham discussed the chronic and debilitating effects anxiety has had on her life.

    "I don't remember a time not being anxious," she said onstage alongside Girls co-showrunner Jenni Konner during a conversation titled "Growing Up With Anxiety."

    Later that year, Dunham participated in the Child Mind Institute's campaign, describing her own struggles with dissociative anxiety. In the short #MyYoungerSelf clip, she encourages others to reach out to those around them when coping with anxiety.

    "I would tell my younger self that there's no shame in asking a teacher for help, telling a friend that you're uncomfortable, and that it's just the same as falling down and scraping your knee," Dunham says in the video.
     

  • Jesse Eisenberg

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    For a young Eisenberg, acting served as a refuge from days in school riddled with anxiety. The actor and writer has since added themes of anxiety to his short stories and plays, many of which feature characters coping with mental illness.

    In his video for the Child Mind Institute, Eisenberg says charitable work also serves as a practical outlet for his anxiety, allowing him to get out of "cyclical thinking patterns" while helping others.

    "It's not the worst thing in the world to have those feelings," Eisenberg says, "even though it might feel like the worst thing in the world."
     

  • Ariana Grande

    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    In a recent interview with British Vogue, the pop star revealed that she's always had anxiety, though never spoke publicly about it because she "thought everyone had it."

    Grande, however, has been outspoken about dealing with anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder in the wake of last year's deadly bombing at her concert at Manchester Arena in England.

    On her newest album, Sweetener, the final track addresses her experience with anxiety. Grande explained the meaning of the song she wrote with Pharrell Williams, "Get Well Soon," to curious fans over Twitter.

    "i felt like i was floating for like 3 months last year & not in a nice way. like i outside my body? was v scary and i couldn't breathe well," Grande tweeted. "i hope it comforts ppl who hear it pls."

  • Hugh Grant

    Juan Naharro Gimenez/WireImage

    Grant took a nearly five-year break from starring roles before working on 2016's Florence Foster Jenkins, partially due to his struggles with performance anxiety.

    The actor discussed his experience on The Hollywood Reporter's Awards Chatter podcast, revealing that "absurd stage fright attacks" would hit him in the middle of filming without warning. The episodes began while he was filming Notting Hill in 1999.

    "They'd only last a morning or something, but it was devastating," said Grant, who uses herbal medications to calm his anxieties.
     

  • John Green

    Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

    The best-selling author of The Fault in Our Stars has been open about coping with anxiety. In his most recent novel, Turtles All the Way Down, Green gets deeply personal with a protagonist who battles the same anxiety-driven thought spirals he has dealt with his entire life.

    Part of the challenge in discussing mental disorders stems from the lack of terminology that describes psychological pain, Green says in a video posted to his YouTube channel last year.

    "You can't really see or hear psychic pain, and it's difficult to describe without simile or metaphor," he explains.

    In an interview with The New York Times, Green emphasized the importance of more positive narratives that address mental health.

    "I want to talk about it, and not feel any embarrassment or shame," he said. "I think it's important for people to hear from adults who have good fulfilling lives and manage chronic mental illness as part of those good fulfilling lives."

  • Colton Haynes

    The CW

    Over the years, the Teen Wolf and Arrow actor has opened up about his anxiety. In a first-person essay published by Paper Magazine, Haynes described his experiences with mental illness, which he's managed since fifth grade.

    Haynes took to social media on World Mental Health Day last year to encourage followers to reach out to those around them who may struggle with mental illness.

    "So let's all take a second to reach out to those in need of help & those who just need someone to talk to or some encouragement," Haynes wrote in an Instagram post. "A little love goes a long way."

     

    Today is #WorldMentalHealthDay . This is a photo I took of myself about a month ago when I had reached a point where I had no idea what to do. I had been in bed crying/paralyzed for 3 wks with no explanation. My personal life & career were at an all time high. I've talked about this before but I can't stress enough how important it is to seek help when your feeling down or in your darkest moments. I've struggled with Anxiety & Depression since I was in the 5th grade & it's not something that should go untreated or uncared for. I know a lot of people don't understand mental illness & pass it off as ppl being dramatic...but it's a chemical Imbalance that no one wants to struggle through. It's not easy. So let's all take a second to reach out to those in need of help & those who just need someone to talk to or some encouragement. A little love goes a long way. My heart is with my fellow survivors & ppl struggling through this disease...you aren't alone.

    A post shared by Colton Haynes (@coltonlhaynes) on

  • Jay Mohr

    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    The actor discussed dealing with anxiety and panic disorder in his 2004 memoir, Gasping for Airtime: Two Years in the Trenches of Saturday Night Live. In an interview with the Columbus Underground in 2016, Mohr pointed out the unhealthy stigma men face when dealing with mental illness. 

    "You need to share those feelings and get well — and get help. But guys — speaking from a panic and alcoholic point of view, personally — we want to fix things ourselves," he said. "But because it's your brain, it's embarrassing to reach out — which is absurd. The manliest thing you can do is ask someone for help."
     

  • Busy Philipps

    Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

    The actress has been outspoken about her lifelong struggle with anxiety. Philipps recently posted a photo on Instagram in which she sports an "anxiety" necklace from the Jen Gotch x Iconery collection. All of the net proceeds from the collection benefit Bring Change to Mind, a nonprofit dedicated to encouraging dialogue about mental health.

    In her #MyYoungerSelf clip for the Child Mind Institute, Philipps talks about feeling like there was something "wrong" with her as a child.

    "Once I was able to start talking about it, it relieved a lot of the anxiety," Philipps says in the video.
      

  • Lili Reinhart

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    In an interview with Glamour, the Riverdale star opened up about her own struggles with anxiety and depression since childhood.

    "I have social anxiety, and it developed when I was a kid," Reinhart said. "I had trouble going to birthday parties. It was always there. I begged my mom to let me be home-schooled at one point for a semester because I was so miserable at school."

    The actress called therapy and medication her "life savers," encouraging others to speak out about their struggles and ask for help.

    "I did what I had to do, and I don't think it's weak," Reinhart said. "Saying that you're sad or you're hurt is not saying that you're less than or that you're admitting weakness. It's the opposite."
     

  • Ryan Reynolds

    Jun Sato/WireImage

    While the actor had struggled with symptoms of anxiety for many years, it wasn't until after filming Deadpool that doctors diagnosed Reynolds with the disorder.

    "I have anxiety, I've always had anxiety," Reynolds told The New York Times in a recent profile. "Both in the lighthearted 'I'm anxious about this' kind of thing, and I've been to the depths of the darker end of the spectrum, which is not fun."

    In the interview, Reynolds said he spent many nights earlier in his career awake paralyzed by anxiety.

    The actor has since turned to meditation to calm his anxiety, using the popular meditation app Headspace.

  • Emma Stone

    Kevin Mazur/WireImage

    Stone confronted her anxiety as a young child, taking to therapy and improv to deal with it. Although she no longer has panic attacks, the actress still deals with her anxiety in interviews and on set.

    In an interview on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Stone explained an illustration she drew as a 7-year-old, depicting her anxiety as a small, green, uterus-shaped monster.


  • Chrissy Teigen

    Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

    In a personal essay published in Glamour last year, Teigen revealed that she was diagnosed with anxiety after her daughter was born, explaining some of the physical symptoms she encountered while battling postpartum depression.

    In the essay, Teigen recalls wanting to explain her mental illness to friends and employers, believing she had let them down. 

    "The mental pain of knowing I let so many people down at once was worse than the physical pain," she wrote. "To have people that you respect, who are the best in the business, witness you at your worst is tough. Even though this was something I shouldn't have to apologize for, I did want to apologize."

    "Every step I take feels a little shaky," the supermodel later elaborated in an interview with Marie Claire. "It's such a weird feeling that you wouldn't know unless you have really bad anxiety ... you feel like everyone is looking at you."
     

  • Meghan Trainor

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    For the pop singer, anxiety created a private persona very different from the one her fans know her by.

    "I was the poster child of 'I'm brave, and I love who I am, and I'm here,'" Trainor said on The Dan Wootton Interview podcast in March. "And [then] I was the opposite. I was crumbling in my bed, like, 'I want to stay here and get through.'"

    During the interview, Trainor discussed seeing multiple doctors and psychologists for her anxiety, which left her with crippling back pain and even sent her to the emergency room after a severe panic attack.

    Trainor said she took time off to deal with her anxiety, using a combination of therapy and self-care to keep daily anxieties in check.