It is difficult to joke about people who are suffering from depression. Most celebrity lists are easy to joke about because usually the conversation is about the size of their bank accounts or the size of their butts. But depression is a different story. It is a recognized medical condition that has enveloped the lives of so many people, including celebrities.
Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to treat depression. Most often, people are just given medication, such as Zoloft or Prozac, to help fight the blues. People try meditation, yoga, and even therapy to help themselves feel better. Despite these efforts, depression is such a difficult thing to fight because it is a constant, daily battle for people to deal with. Unlike a cold or the flu, sometimes it may never pass.
It takes a ton of bravery for a person to admit that they have trouble with depression. For celebrities, that can be even more challenging because they end up on lists like these for the whole world to see. However, these celebrities will give hope to everyone from depressed guys living in their mom’s basement to other A-list celebrities dealing with the same issue.
Tackling any medical condition requires, at a minimum, some sort of open discussion. As embarrassing or painful as it may be, seeing people open up about depression is the first step toward making it a thing of the past. So, take comfort in that celebrities are actually people and these 15 celebs are ones that are dealing with depression just like everyone else.
15 Jon Hamm
It may be difficult for an average person to understand why Jon Hamm would be depressed. From the outside, it may seem like depression would be impossible to come to a man who seems to have it all. Women throw themselves at him like hungry tigers on a steak. He could probably buy two private jets and replace all the chairs with just solid gold stools because he is so rich. Plus, he gets to walk the red carpet at awards shows, gets mentioned every time someone says, “name the 10 best looking actors in Hollywood,” and enjoys being a part of awesome, critically acclaimed projects like Mad Men.
To most, they would probably just figure that he has a stupid last name and that is probably what is tormenting him. However, Hamm talked about his depression that he suffered after the death of his father when Hamm was only 20. He is doing better now, but the loss of a loved one took its toll on him.
14 Ashley Judd
For those too young to remember, Ashley Judd is a part of a very famous family. Her mom, Naomi Judd, is a country music legend and her sister, Wynona Judd, is just as popular. Of course, Judd is an established actor, having distanced herself from the family business and started something substantial on her own. What would she have to be depressed about?
Well, country music singers are stereotyped for their extremely sad songs. Keep in mind that those songs have to come from somewhere. For Judd, she witnessed a lot of dysfunction growing up and it had a major effect on her. For years, she suffered from the after effects of her family’s alcoholism and the sexual abuse she endured as a child. At one point, she even checked into a rehab facility in Texas, claiming that she would have died without it otherwise.
The good news is that Judd is on the mend with a family and a life of which she can be proud.
13 Nicki Minaj
It is interesting that Nicki Minaj, world famous singer and dancer, ever suffered from depression because just looking at her usually makes people feel a million times better. But do not tell that to Minaj. She has been open about her struggles with depression, stemming partially from when she was working on getting a start in the music business early on.
Minaj said that she faced a lot of defeat when she got started. At the time, no one was impressed with her and decided to go other directions for productions that she tried to join in on. That kind of constant disappointment created such dark thoughts that she ended up feeling suicidal in the early days of her career.
Thankfully, she managed to beat the depression and is open about the struggles she faced. Had depression taken her over, the world would be deprived of songs that they could sing drunkenly with their friends on Saturday nights.
12 Ellen DeGeneres
Losing a job can be extremely depressing for anyone. Even the guy who did not like to work as a delivery driver at Pizza Hut still feels the sting when his boss calls him in the office and tells him to pack his things. The reasons for this are obvious, too. Nearly every human being feels some pride in their job, even if their job sucks. Being told to take a hike can be a blow to a person’s self-esteem.
Ellen DeGeneres experienced this as a level 10 times more than a Pizza Hut driver would. After she came out of the closet on television, Ellen, and the show that she worked so hard on, was cancelled. She was on top of the world for a few years, but then had to figure out a way to put the pieces back together. During that time, she went into some dark places that only depression can take you.
Now, Ellen learned to battle those feelings and is one of the most successful entertainers ever.
11 Owen Wilson
A lot of people battle depression. The thing with depression, much like other mental illnesses, is that they can be battled privately. With the right medication and limited public interaction, a person could suffer silently for decades and no one would be any wiser.
This was the case with Owen Wilson. His characters on the screen portrayed this kind of devil-may-care, hip, laid-back guy, but that, of course, was just acting. Deep down, Wilson was battling the depression monster on a daily basis and nobody but his family was aware. His furious fight against the disease came to a head in 2007 when there were reports that he tried to commit suicide. So much for keeping it a secret.
Wilson is back on the mend emotionally since then. His family reports that he has slowly started to come back from those feelings of depression a bit by bit every day. The accomplished actor is still alive and kicking, to this day.
10 Heath Ledger
For those living under a rock for the last ten years, Heath Ledger is probably most famous for his unforgettable role as The Joker in 2008's The Dark Knight. Polishing a creepy, but sincere American accent, this Australian native captivated audiences as a total psychopath, capable of destroying Gotham and everyone in it. He did so well that it earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor. Certainly not a small feat.
However, Ledger was dealing with issues of depression not too long after wrapped up filming. In 2008, he was found having overdosed on prescription drugs in his apartment in New York City. The death was ruled accidental, but his mental condition gave rise to suspicion that he may have induced this trauma on himself. Although there is still some mystery to his death, rumour has it that his breakup with his baby mama, Michelle Williams, sent him into a downward spiral that ended in his overdose on painkillers in 2008.
9 Kristen Bell
Kristen Bell is one of the most likeable personalities in Hollywood. Nearly all of her characters in both movies and television are really hard to hate. Just take a quick look at her filmography, because it uncovers characters that really fit her personality. She usually plays a tough, smart, affable person who the audience cannot help but root for. The commercials with her funny hubby Dax Shepard, make it difficult to believe she could not be happy.
But Bell said that depression is as much as a family heirloom as an old wedding ring. She has admitted that several of her family members have suffered from depression over the years. Because depression is kind of like a fat, unwelcome houseguest, it can permeate not just one person, but an entire family.
Bell is honest about her condition though. She says that it is okay to speak up and ask for help. You go girl.
8 Lady Gaga
Before clicking the red “x” on the internet browser or just clicking over to the next celebrity, just take a second to read this. Lady Gaga is one of the biggest proponents of mental and emotional health there is. She has a foundation called "Born This Way," which helps not only promote emotional well being, but helps young people focus on what makes them feel good and feel brave.
A lot of this stems from Gaga’s own struggles with depression. The singer and actress has said that she has dealt with depression and anxiety for nearly all of her life. She says that the feelings of being disconnected to the world only amplified these feelings, and she wants the world to stop and feel more connected to each other, improving each other’s health.
7 Angelina Jolie
Taking the title as the hottest mom to ever live, Angelina Jolie is also the hottest mom to ever live with depression. From all appearances, her marriage to the hottest dad to ever live, Brad Pitt, and their big horde of children would make it seem like life is grand. However, Jolie has suffered with depression multiple times in her life, even after she started her movie career.
Jolie, star of the Tomb Raider series, has been open about her struggle with depression. She said that in her 20s she dealt with depression severely and after her mother’s death in 2007, she started to slide back into a “dark place.”
To battle the depression, Jolie has thrown herself into projects. The social change advocate has made efforts to try to make the world a better place for everyone else, serving as a U.N. Goodwill ambassador abroad and simultaneously making her mind a better place, too.
6 Christina Ricci
It takes a lot of intestinal fortitude to admit when one is suffering from depression. Unlike so many other conditions, there is still a massive stigma around mental health and depression is no different. So many people categorize being depressed with being “crazy” that they forget that people who suffer from depression are often dying slowly, from the inside out - just like any cancer or bacteria that exists.
Christina Ricci, who admitted to suffering from depression, has taken the next step in trying to get rid of the stigma. One of the things that she has done is star in a movie about it called Prozac Nation. In that movie, Ricci plays a person who shows the ugly side of depression; the lack of sympathy, the feelings of anger and isolation, and the sadness that befalls not just the sufferer but everyone around them.
Ricci is proud to show both the ugly and heartwarming sides of this condition and is using her star power to bring it into the national spotlight.
5 The Rock
The biggest surprise has to be The Rock’s struggles with depression. The Rock, also known as Dwayne Johnson, is one of the most famous movie stars in the world. The former college football player and professional wrestler is such a badass on screen that it is impossible to believe that a man that big could be taken down by something that is invisible to the human eye.
Much of Johnson’s depression came when his dreams of becoming a football star in the NFL essentially flatlined. The former University of Miami Hurricanes defensive player wanted to make his professional football dreams a reality, but the NFL never called, sending him into a spiral that lasted for a while.
But if there is ever an inspiring story, it is Johnson. Now a mega star, turned this disappointment into a career that is the envy of anyone else that strapped on a helmet.
4 Sarah Silverman
It may be a rule that comedians, at some point in their lives, have to be depressed. Take a second to think about it. Is being happy really that funny? Is it interesting to hear a comedian talk about his he and his three kids woke up on a Saturday, went to Disneyland, had ice cream, and then watched Netflix? Or, is it more interesting to hear about a comedian who is having trouble dating, fell on his way catching the subway, and has a rat infested apartment? Probably option B.
The problem though is that many comedians, such as Sarah Silverman, use humor to cover up the pain that they feel inside. Silverman is actually trying to take the stigma out of depression by more openly talking about her problems with depression and how she is treating it. She is currently starring in a movie called I Smile Back, where she plays a depressed mom who is not getting help and just relying on pills and booze to help her through.
By pulling the curtain back on this disease, Silverman is going to help millions of women, and even comedians, feel a bit better.
3 Russell Brand
For a number of people who suffer from depression, it is often triggered by some event. It could be a divorce. It could be the loss of a loved one. It could be getting fired from a job, a breakup, or your team losing on a last second shot in the NBA Finals.
For others, depression starts at an early age and is often a result of the parenting one endures. Russell Brand, the English funnyman known to star in such movies like Get Him to the Greek with Jonah Hill, said that he not only suffered from depression but other conditions as well as a kid. In an interview with The Guardian, an English newspaper, Brand said that both his father and stepfather were the macho types and being a fat child, made him feel inferior. Brand mentions that he suffered from depression and bulimia as early as age 11; something very unusual for a boy of such a tender age.
Brand has the last laugh though. Although he still deals with it today, Brand is able to take his feelings and turn it into entertainment gold.
2 Demi Lovato
It is surprising that more child stars are not on this list. Isn’t it kind of a rule that if someone was a Disney actor when they were young that they either have to rob a liquor store or in some other way embarrass themselves just like Britney Spears? Regardless, Demi Lovato, the former Disney star, battled not just depression, but a host of other emotional issues over the past few years.
In an interview with People magazine, she suffered from depression, two eating disorders (anorexia and bulimia), and even was dealing with bipolar disorder. Lovato admitted that she had kind of lost control of her life and when that happens it can be extremely difficult to dig oneself out.
The worst part is that Lovato, like many depressed people, had to go into treatment. The problem was that she was still only a teenager when this happened. However, after a three-month stay in rehab, she is ready to start taking over the world.
1 Kerry Washington
Out of all of the people on the list, Kerry Washington probably has the career that is on the biggest upswing of any other celebrity. She is most famous for her role as Olivia Pope on ABC’s mega-hit Scandal, but Washington is a Hollywood veteran, known in movie circles for more than just her most recent project. In 2004, Washington had a role in the movie Ray, where she won an NAACP Image award for her role as Della Bea Robison, Ray Charles’ second wife.
But for Washington, she started to realize that the price of fame is not all it is cracked up to be. As her fame started to rise, Washington began to realize that people were going to talk about her (like this article) and invade her personal space more than she was normally comfortable with. Coupled with her mom’s breast cancer, Washington found herself sinking into a depression.
Washington has decided to take control of her life, though. With her mom in remission, Washington has dedicated herself to be keep smiling no matter how difficult things get.