Celebrities with Mental Illnesses Speak Out to End Stigma

By: Jayson Tripp, MD


Mental illness is prevalent in our society with 1 in 4 Americans struggling with their diagnosis. Mental illness can happen to anyone regardless of gender, race, socio-economic status, or age. Mental illness afflicts millions of people across the globe and yet still has a stigma in modern society.  

Famous celebrities seem to have it all – beauty, wealth, and status. It’s easy to think their lives are perfect, but even celebrities are vulnerable to mental health issues like depression, OCD, and anxiety, to name a few. Thankfully, more and more famous actors and other influential figures are now using their voice to shed light on mental illness and create awareness to destigmatize it.  

 In today’s blog, we’ll spotlight some well-known celebrities who are bravely challenging stigma by speaking out about their own personal struggles with mental illnesses like depression and OCD. 

Maisie Williams

Maisie Williams, star of Game of Thrones (GOT), recently opened up about her experience with depression as a young teen  dealing with the dark side of fame. Cast as Arya Stark on the popular HBO series at just 13 years old, Maisie struggled with self-image as she fell victim to social media gossip. She mentions in the podcast “The Happy Place” that she felt very down and “In my own personal life, I think I just went through a lot of real revelations where I was like, ‘I’m not very happy doing this and pretending everything was fine”.

Sophie Turner

Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa Stark on GOT has also had similar experiences with depression and self-image as a teen on the show. She shared in an interview with Marie Claire Australia  how her mental health was affected by body shaming on social media. 

“I have experienced mental illness firsthand, and I’ve seen what it can do to the people around [the sufferers] as well,” she said. “[In my teen years] my metabolism suddenly decided to fall to the depths of the ocean and I started to get spotty and gain weight, and all of this was happening to me on camera.” 

Opening up with Dr. Phil McGraw  about her long-term struggle with mental health, Sophie shared about the challenges she faced every day with depression. “I’ve suffered from depression for about five or six years now,” the star said, revealing the same personal challenges the rest of us face in the grips of depression. “The biggest challenge for me: Getting out of bed and getting out of the house — and like, learning to love yourself.” 

Leonardo DiCaprio

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, A.K.A. OCD, is a difficult-to-treat condition that is more common than one might think. Leonardo DiCaprio is one celebrity with OCD  who has spoken openly about it. DiCaprio has shared his own experience managing the illness in relation to his role in The Aviator as Howard Hughes, who is famously known to have suffered from severe OCD. 

While DiCaprio’s symptoms of moderate OCD have certainly been a challenge for him, he doesn’t let the condition stop him from living a full life. For DiCaprio, positive self-talk has been a successful strategy for managing OCD symptoms. “I’m able to say at some point, ‘OK, you’re being ridiculous, stop stepping on every gum stain you see. You don’t need to do that. You don’t need to walk 20 feet back and put your foot on that thing. Nothing bad is going to happen.” 

As defined by the National Institute of Mental Health , OCD is a “chronic and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, recurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.  For some, medications work well to help control symptoms, but many people do not respond to traditional medications.

Thankfully, there are alternative brain stimulation treatments like TMS that are showing great promise as a drug-free treatment for OCD. BrainsWay’s Deep TMS is the only available FDA-cleared TMS treatment for OCD  for those who have tried traditional drug therapy without success. Better yet, many health insurance plans are now covering TMS for OCD in treatment-resistant cases. 

While the stigma around mental illness still exists in modern society, it is encouraging to see high-profile celebrities with mental illness chipping away at it by telling their stories. To read about even more celebrities who have spoken out, check out our previous blog post on celebrities and influencers who have opened up about their mental health

It’s an unnecessary tragedy that so many people suffer quietly with illnesses like OCD, anxiety, and depression, afraid to seek help because of stigma. The more people talk openly about mental health issues, the more people realize how common it is to struggle with mental health, and that it’s okay to ask for help.  

Don’t suffer if you don’t have to. If you’re interested in learning how TMS and other mental health treatment options can help, give us a shout . We’d love nothing more than to help you take back your life! Serenity can help for depression, OCD, and more, offering a full range of psychiatry treatment options with experienced psychiatrists in Gilbert, AZ and in our Phoenix psychiatry office near North Scottsdale. 

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