Celebrities on mental illness: Demi Lovato, Lena Dunham, more speak out to break stigmas


You're not alone: That's the message these celebrities hope to spread by speaking out about mental illnesses.

Lena Dunham, Demi Lovato and Emma Watson and other celebrities are aiming to help break mental health stigmas. Whether they've revealed firsthand experiences or discussed the need for healthcare improvements in the nation, they've become inspirations to those battling their own demons.

Read what these stars have said about dealing with anxiety, depression and other issues.

Aaron Carter

Stemming from his July 15, 2017, DUI arrest
(Credit: Invision, AP / Rich Fury)

Stemming from his July 15, 2017, DUI arrest photo, singer Aaron Carter revealed during a sit down with "Entertainment Tonight" on Wednesday, July 19, 2017, that it was difficult to see himself in a mirror, saying, "Oh, my God, it hurts so badly . . . because there's, like, nothing I can do about it." He said body-image issues are more common in men than people realize because "men are a lot more prideful [than women]. We don't want to admit it. I don't want to admit I don't look good."

Troian Bellisario

(Credit: Getty Images / Ilya S. Savenok)

"Pretty Little Liars" actress Troian Bellisario opened up about her struggle with anorexia in an essay published on Tuesday, July 18 2017, on Lenny Letter. "As someone who struggles with a mental illness, my biggest challenge is that I don't always know which voice inside me is speaking," she wrote for the digital publication created by Lena Dunham and Jennifer Konner, adding, "There is a part of my brain that defies logic. Once, it completely convinced me I should live off 300 calories a day, and at some point, it told me even that was too much. That part of my brain is my disease, and there was a time when it had absolute authority over me. It almost killed me..."

Prince Harry

Prince Harry said in an interview with
(Credit: Getty Images / Chris Jackson)

Prince Harry said in an interview with "Bryony Gordon's Mad World," a podcast by the UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph, that he suffered from "emotional shutdowns" for 20 years following the death of his mother, Princess Diana. He said he eventually sought counseling, after a suggestion from his brother, Prince William. During the interview he said he is now able to take his work and private life more "seriously" and "put blood, sweat and tears into the things that really make a difference and things that I think will make a difference to everybody else."



Shannon Purser

In a pair of tweets sent in November
(Credit: AP)

In a pair of tweets sent in November 2016, "Stranger Things" actress Shannon Purser opened up about her battle with self-harm, triggered by suicidal thoughts, depression and anxiety, in the hopes of spreading mental illness awareness. The 19-year-old actress first tweeted an image of a razor blade with the caption, "*TRIGGER WARNING* I haven't self-harmed in years, but I kept this around, 'just in case.' I forgot it was there & now it's in the trash." She followed up with another tweet: "Recovery is possible. Please don't give up on yourself."

Paris Jackson

Paris Jackson's depression and drug use led to
(Credit: AFP / Getty Images / Lilly Lawrence)

Paris Jackson's depression and drug use led to her widely publicized suicide attempt at 15, when she overdosed on 20 Motrin and cut herself with a kitchen knife. In a 2017 Rolling Stone interview, she says that had been the latest try of "multiple times . . . It was just once that it became public."

Carrie Fisher

The late Carrie Fisher had spoken candidly about
(Credit: AP / Chris Pizzello)

The late Carrie Fisher had spoken candidly about her depression and bipolarity in interviews, including one with Oprah Winfrey in 2011 during which she said she had regular electroconvulsive treatment to "blow apart the cement" in her brain, as well as in her 2008 memoir, "Wishful Drinking." The actress, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in her 20s, went on to use her fame as a platform to raise awareness of mental illness. She and her mother, the late Debbie Reynolds, were recognized for their commitment to various charities, including the mental-health organization Reynolds founded, the Thalians. Fisher's ashes were put into a porcelain urn in the shape of an outsized anti-depressant.

Ryan Reynolds

Ryan Reynolds says the tumultuous, more than decadelong
(Credit: AP)

Ryan Reynolds says the tumultuous, more than decadelong effort to make "Deadpool," which went on to earn the biggest global box-office of any R-rated film, left him suffering panic attacks.

"I felt like I was on some schooner in the middle of a white squall the whole time. It just never stopped," the actor says in the December 2016 issue of GQ. "When it finally ended, I had a little bit of a nervous breakdown. I literally had the shakes. I went to go see a doctor because I felt like I was suffering from a neurological problem or something. And every doctor I saw said, 'You have anxiety.' "

Naomi Judd

Naomi Judd opened up about her battle with
(Credit: AP)

Naomi Judd opened up about her battle with depression on ABC's "Good Morning America" on Dec. 6, 2016, saying that she has been diagnosed with severe depression and spent time in psychiatric hospitals. She said she is confronting lingering issues from her childhood as part of her therapy, including being molested by a relative when she was 3.



Amanda Seyfried

Continuing to help dispel the stigma about mental
(Credit: AP)

Continuing to help dispel the stigma about mental illness, actress Amanda Seyfried has expanded on comments
 she made last year about the efficacy of therapy, speaking more in-depth about her obsessive compulsive disorder.

"I'm on Lexapro," Seyfried says in an issue of Allure, referencing a brand name of escitalopram, a common medication used to treat conditions including OCD, "and I'll never get off of it. I've been on it since I was 19, so 11 years. I'm on the lowest dose. I don't see the point of getting off of it. Whether it's placebo or not, I don't want to risk it."

Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato is an ultimate mental health advocate.
(Credit: Getty Images / Paul Morigi)

Demi Lovato is an ultimate mental health advocate. She's been open about her struggles with eating and bipolar disorders since checking out of rehab in 2011. Aside from being open about her journey through her music (see "Skyscraper"), Lovato let the world watch her recovery in the 2012 MTV documentary "Stay Strong."

She spoke most recently at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July about the nation's lack of resources for mental health treatment.

"We can do better. Every one of us can make a difference by getting educated on this epidemic and its frightening statistics and by breaking the stigma," she said.

Cara Delevingne

What was Cara Delevingne's life like before her
(Credit: Getty Images / AFP / Justin Tallis)

What was Cara Delevingne's life like before her successful modeling career took off? The actress/model shocked her fans when she opened up about her struggle with depression at the age of 15, during an interview with Rupert Everett in 2015.

"I got to the point where I went a bit mad. I was completely suicidal ... I thought that I was completely alone, but I also realized how lucky I was," she said during the Women in the World panel.

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga was inspired by her fans when
(Credit: Getty Images / Kevork Djansezian)

Lady Gaga was inspired by her fans when she established the Born This Way Foundation, which aims to empower youth, the singer told Billboard. While the organization is not solely mental health-focused, Gaga said she wanted to inspire those who were struggling.

"They would tell me their stories -- and many of them were very dark," she said. "As I began to care for them and to see myself in them, I felt I had to do something that would remind kids they're not alone. When they feel isolated, that's when it leads to suicide."

Lena Dunham

Similar to her
(Credit: Getty Images / Jason Merritt)

Similar to her "Girls" character Hannah Horvath, Lena Dunham has been open about her struggles with anxiety. In January, she took to Instagram to explain that women on psychiatric medication are not "out-of-control."

"Most women on meds are women who have been brave enough to help themselves," she wrote. "Meds don't make me a hollowed out version of my former self or a messy bar patron with a bad bleach job. They allowed me to finally meet myself."



Emma Watson

After breaking free from the role of Hermione
(Credit: Getty Images / Astrid Stawiarz)

After breaking free from the role of Hermione Granger that defined her childhood, Emma Watson took on a new one: Feminism and gender equality advocate. While the actress often speaks of women's rights, she addressed the issues that men suffering from mental disorders also face during her 2014 HeForShe campaign speech.

"I've seen young men suffering from mental illness, unable to ask for help for fear it would make them less of a man ... Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong ... I want men to take up this mantle ... reclaim those parts of themselves they abandoned," Watson said.

Justin Bieber

Being at the center of pop fame can
(Credit: Getty Images / Neilson Barnard)

Being at the center of pop fame can be lonely, so Justin Bieber says. The singer told NME Magazine in November 2015 that the intense attention he receives from the media and public made him depressed.

"[I feel depressed] all the time. And I feel isolated. You're in your hotel room and there are fans all around, paparazzi following you everywhere, and it gets intense. When you can't go anywhere or do anything alone you get depressed," Bieber said. He also revealed he feared he would follow a similar path as the late Amy Winehouse by allowing the media attention to affect his mental well-being.

Selena Gomez

Selena Gomez took a step back from touring
(Credit: Getty Images / Mike Coppola)

Selena Gomez took a step back from touring in August, citing anxiety, panic attacks and depression. In a statement to Us Weekly, she wrote that her mental health had been impacted by her lupus diagnosis. "I know I am not alone by sharing this. I hope others will be encouraged to address their own issues," she wrote.

"My self-esteem was shot. I was depressed, anxious. I started to have panic attacks right before getting onstage, or right after leaving the stage. Basically I felt I wasn't good enough, wasn't capable. I felt I wasn't giving my fans anything, and they could see it -- which, I think, was a complete distortion," she later revealed in a March Vogue interview.

Pete Wentz

Fall Out Boy frontman Pete Wentz admitted he
(Credit: Getty Images for Global Citizen / Noam Galai)

Fall Out Boy frontman Pete Wentz admitted he struggled with his mental health during his 20s in an interview in 2015. When fans were wondering what broke up Wentz and former wife Ashlee Simpson, the singer sat down with Howard Stern to reveal he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Wentz also experienced anxiety and depression before the band's success in the early 2000s, he said in a video he recorded with mental health aid foundation Half of Us.

"At the end of the day you just need to be able to feel safe in your own skin," he said. "People need to find their own kind of balances and find their own peace."

Hayden Panettiere

(Credit: Getty Images / Jason Kempin)

"Nashville" star Hayden Panettiere opened up about her struggles with postpartum depression in the hopes that doing so would encourage other new moms to do the same.

"It's something that needs to be talked about. Women need to know that they're not alone, and that it does heal," she said on "Live! With Kelly and Michael" in September 2015.

J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling, the magical mind behind
(Credit: Getty Images / Rob Stothard)

J.K. Rowling, the magical mind behind "Harry Potter," considered suicide while struggling with depression in her 20s, Fox News reported in 2008. Some of her fans even believe the book's Dementors are a metaphor for a looming depression. Rowling has been extremely responsive to her fans on Twitter when they reach out for advice.

"The world is full of wonderful things you haven't seen yet. Don't ever give up on the chance of seeing them," Rowling wrote to a fan in 2015 who tweeted he wanted to "finally give up."

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