Many people dream of achieving fame and fortune. But, think about all of the celebrities that have achieved this. Britney Spears, for example, achieved international success before she turned 20. So did Justin Bieber and Lindsay Lohan. Yet, they—along with numerous other celebrities (both young and old)— suffered break downs. It’s an interesting phenomenon. We often think that someone of that status must have a good life. Seriously, what could go wrong when you have millions of dollars and a ton of people that admire you? Well, apparently a lot can go wrong.
Being a celebrity is actually pretty stressful. Sure, it’s not as stressful as having to struggle to find food every day or dodging bullets in a bad neighborhood. But, it is stressful in the sense that celebrities have a lack of privacy (most even have stalkers), are under constant pressure to remain relevant and are constantly criticized. It’s hard enough when your parent or best friend criticizes you, right? So, imagine having them plus thousands of strangers, co-workers and people in your industry criticizing you—all day, every day. And on top of that, you still have to deal with the normal stresses of life. It’s bound to have a psychological impact, especially if you don’t have a strong support group or healthy and effective coping mechanisms. That said, here are 15 celebrities who just couldn’t handle the pressures of fame.
15 Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey put on quite the performance (or should we say, non-performance?) on New Year’s Eve. Sadly, we weren’t so shocked. She is known as the biggest diva in Hollywood, after all. The talented musician was once on top of the music game. She sold millions of albums, shattered records and had a voice that was incomparable. But, things started going downhill for the star in the early 2000s.
After her breakup with Luis Miguel in 2001, Mariah was allegedly depressed. Her single, “Loverboy” was also not performing well and she was working hard to promote her film, Glitter (and its soundtrack). The singer began posting bizarre messages on her website and had a questionable appearance on MTV. She was soon hospitalized for “extreme exhaustion.” She later revealed, "I didn't have the right support system around me at the time.” Carey bounced back a few years later, releasing The Emancipation of Mimi (which, all MC fans can agree is a great pop album). But, one more divorce and a broken engagement later, and people suspect that Carey is having yet another breakdown (hence, the odd NYE spectacle). We sure hope that isn’t the case, though, and that it was only a technical issue.
14 Justin Bieber
Hate him or love him—there’s no denying that JB is one of the biggest pop sensations of all time. Are you noticing a trend? It’s usually the ones that are huge stars that are subject to a terrible fall from grace… usually. Sure, Justin never went to rehab like the other young stars that had breakdowns, but he did have a few run-ins with the law. The trouble began in 2012, with Bieber being accused of reckless driving. This was followed by vandalism, throwing eggs at a neighbor’s house, driving under the influence (of THC and anti-anxiety medications) and assaulting paparazzi. He opened up saying that he lost himself and just wants a normal life.
Things eventually calmed down for the singer (on the legal front, at least) after the release of Purpose in 2015. The young star seemed to have a newfound appreciation for religion (namely, Christianity), as he is shown praying on the cover of the album, adorned with a tattoo of a cross. The truth is that religion had always been a big part of his and his mom’s life. But, something changed recently and JB has been posting Bible verses on Instagram and going on religious retreats. JB recently told the press, “I just wanna honestly live like Jesus.” And although the singer hasn’t been getting into legal trouble, he does seem rather exhausted and has been acting strangely. In 2016, he has posted on social media that he doesn’t want to take photos with fans (since he feels like a “zoo animal”), got into a fist fight and was seen walking around barefoot. Sources say he may be headed for a breakdown, but we believe he’s already had one (and is still going through it). We hope he continues to get better, though.
13 Selena Gomez
While we’re on the topic of Justin Bieber, we should also bring up his ex, Selena Gomez. She seems like one of the sweetest, most down-to-earth artists in Hollywood and that could actually explain why she doesn’t handle fame well. In 2014, the singer went to rehab (though, at the time, the public wasn’t aware that she had been diagnosed with lupus and was receiving treatment for it) and received criticism on social media for defending Taylor Swift (during her little feud with Kanye West). In early 2016, Gomez threatened to delete Instagram and later that year, she teared up while performing at her concert in Indonesia. She then posted a message on Instagram, in which she spoke about re-thinking all areas of her life.
Selena also went silent on social media for three months, but gave an explanation at the American Music Awards: "I think it's safe to say that most of you know a lot of my life, whether I like it or not, and I had to stop, 'cause I had everything and I was absolutely broken inside. And I kept it all together enough to where I would never let you down, but I kept it too much together to where I let myself down." We have to give it up to her for being so real and realizing that her health is more important than maintaining a perfect public image.
12 Amanda Bynes
We all witnessed the fall of Amanda Bynes, as it was pretty much documented on social media. She started off so well and everyone could see her potential as she shined in movies such as She’s the Man, Sydney White and What a Girl Wants. But, by 2008, the actress had parted ways with her talent agency and was frustrated that she was getting repeatedly cast as a “goody-goody.” In 2010, she Tweeted that she has retired as an actress. She then suffered a very public breakdown and seemed to be going down a path of self-destruction, after being arrested for DUI and criminal possession of marijuana and Tweeting bizarre messages to other celebrities. Unfortunately, multiple sources reported that she also suffered mental illness. As of 2015, People magazine confirmed that she returned to the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (as she plans to launch a career in fashion). Recently, the actress was spotted looking healthy and happy. We’re so glad this phase ended well for her.
11 Kanye West
Besides his music, Kanye West is known for being outspoken. But, fans knew something was really wrong when West went on a long rant during one of his concerts in November 2016. Prior to that, though, there were signs that things weren’t so good. The rapper made headlines for his controversial Tweets, including one in which he claimed he was bankrupt and another in which he begged Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, for money. He was also (understandably) worried since Kim’s robbery in Paris and fans speculate that the month of November is always a hard time for Kanye since it’s the month his mother passed away.
Following his bizarre rant at his concert, all his subsequent tour dates were cancelled and he was hospitalized for “psychosis” brought on by “exhaustion.” He was released after about a week and we haven’t heard much from him since. Hopefully, he’s well and will be making new music soon. We have a feeling his next album will be even more spectacular than usual.
10 Lindsay Lohan
Unfortunately, Lindsay Lohan has become the poster child for child stars gone bad. She started off sweet, innocent and with a ton of potential. Even as she grew up, things seem to be headed in a good direction, with her landing a record deal and starring in blockbusters such as Mean Girls, Freaky Friday and Herbie: Fully Loaded. It was during filming of the latter where the negative side of Lindsay’s life began to show, as she was hospitalized with exhaustion and stress. Things came crashing down (pun intended) in 2005 when Lindsay had a personal injury suit filed against her by someone who claimed the actress injured them in a traffic accident. In 2007, the actress checked into rehab multiple times and was involved in numerous DUI incidents and crashes. In 2010, she was sentenced to 90 days in jail and rehab.
The actress clearly had an addiction problem and it was also reported that she revealed she had an eating disorder, which she later denied. What went wrong? For one, she was hanging around the party crowd and she seemed to want the attention on herself—whether it was good or bad. On top of that, Lindsay had her own personal problems with her family and one could only imagine the pressure a rising actress/singer had to face. Looks like Lindsay couldn’t handle it at the time, but she seems to be doing much better these days.
9 Shia LaBoeuf
Shia LaBoeuf is best known to ‘90s kids for his starring role in the show, Even Stevens. He successfully broke into movies, starring in the Transformers series. However, in recent years, the actor has been acting erratically. He started fights, plagiarized, checked into rehab for an alcohol addiction, was arrested multiple times for causing disturbances and even took part in a performance art piece in which he wore a paper bag over his head which read, “I am not famous anymore.”
Shia opened up to Ellen DeGeneres, saying “I got into this industry because I had this void. I’m a kid of abandonment, and so I thought being good at being an actor would somehow fill that void. A lot of entertainers are this way. You really just want to make a mark… So I think we suffer from the same thing, which is just a lack of attention and love.” That really gives us a new perspective on his situation (as well as the situation of others on this list).
8 Mischa Barton
Mischa Barton was once the “it” girl, starring in the hit teenage drama, The O.C. But, once she left the show, things started going downhill. In 2007, she was arrested for DUI. And instead of breaking out successfully, she starred in a series of films that flopped. She also felt the pressures of the industry, stating: “I was under enormous pressure… It was always, ‘She’s too skinny, she must be sick,' Then it was, ‘She’s too big.’ I was never the right weight.” The actress had issues with her mom, too, who was her manager at the time. Her mom allegedly exploited her and stole money from her.
The pressure got to be too much and Mischa was placed on an involuntary psychiatric hold in 2009 after she reportedly threatened to kill herself. Following that incident, she seemed to disappear from the spotlight but resurfaced in 2017—and not in a good way. Mischa was found screaming over her backyard fence and was taken to the hospital for a mental evaluation. She claimed she was drugged, but seeing as this situation was just the other day, only time will tell what’s really going on.
7 Winona Ryder
Ah, Winona Ryder—there’s a name you probably haven’t heard in ages (unless you watched Stranger Things). What happened to the actress who was once everywhere? Well, in 2001 she was caught shoplifting (which she obviously didn’t need to do, seeing that she was only one of the biggest actresses around) and was highly criticized for it. Following the incident, Ryder opened up, revealing that she suffered from panic attacks and anxiety. In fact, Ryder dropped out of The Godfather Part III due to anxiety, exhaustion and depression. She said in an interview that she felt that her job was taking a toll on her mental health. That is why she now stays out of the spotlight, declining major roles and opting for indie films instead.
6 Jennifer Lopez
This one may come as a surprise because it wasn’t publicized at the time it occurred. Jennifer Lopez (AKA JLo) suffered a breakdown, too. She’s known for being a triple threat—a talented singer, actor and dancer—as well as having a perfume line. Most of us have a hard time juggling just one job while maintaining our health and daily responsibilities, so you can imagine what life for someone like JLo must have been like. She said, "There was a time when I was very overworked and I was doing music and movies and so many things. I was suffering from a lack of sleep. And I did have a kind of nervous breakdown. I froze up on set. Well, not on a set, but in my trailer. I was like…I don't want to move, I don't want to talk, I don't want to do anything. It was on that movie, Enough.” The singer apparently began sobbing and her bodyguard had to drive her to the doctor, who told her she was sleep deprived. Thankfully, she bounced back and is still doing her thing.
5 Rob Kardashian
The Kardashians are known as the family that’s “famous for being famous.” Truth is, the Kardashians actually do work hard to maintain their wealth and level of fame—letting cameras in on their lives, doing photoshoots, promotions, developing apps and writing books. And while the girls seem to handle their fame quite well, the same can’t be said of the young male Kardashian, Rob. Although he was on Keeping Up With the Kardashians, he never seemed comfortable in front the cameras and he even broke down on an episode of the show. In short, Rob struggled to keep up with his sisters. He eventually became reclusive, refused to take part in the reality show and was depressed. However, things seemed to turn around for Rob when he started dating Blac Chyna and had a daughter with her. We hope that, despite rumors he and Blac Chyna are separating, that he stays strong for himself and his daughter.
4 Robbie Williams
Robbie Williams is huge in the UK; in fact, he is the best-selling male British solo artist in the UK. You can only imagine the amount of fame and pressure that someone of that status would feel. Add to that the fact that drugs are so very accessible when you’re a celebrity and you’ve got a potential for a breakdown. This is what happened to Robbie Williams back in 1999. He said, “I couldn’t leave my house. I couldn’t get out of bed. I was scared to go down to the deli ‘cause people would talk to me or look at me, and I wouldn’t have anything to say back to them.” He later revealed that using drugs triggered depression for him. Thankfully, Robbie is doing much better these days, he says of his life and his wife (Ayda): “My life is way better because Ayda is in it. My life is richer now because of what I have been through. I still have those downs but right now I'm up here.”
3 Demi Lovato
Demi is one artist who has been very open with her struggles. The public first got a glimpse in 2010, when she assaulted her backup dancer on a plane. It was later revealed that the actress-turned-singer had a cocaine addiction and an addiction to cutting herself (on top of an eating disorder). She struggled with low self-esteem (which can only be exacerbated when the spotlight is constantly on you at such a critical age) and stress. She eventually went to rehab and says of the dark phase of her life: “I basically had a nervous breakdown. I was really bad off. My parents and my manager pulled me aside and said, ‘You need to get some help.’ It was an intervention. I wanted freedom from the inner demons. I wanted to start my life over.” Today, Demi is stronger than ever and uses her platform to help others who are dealing with mental health issues.
2 Lamar Odom
It’s safe to say that the NBA player, Lamar Odom, has had quite the tragic life up until this point. His mother died when he was just 12 years old and his father was absent most of his life. He went to live with his grandma, but she passed away when he was 20. Then, Lamar had three children and one unfortunately passed away from SIDS. When Lamar met Khloe Kardashian in 2009, it seemed like he really had a shot at happiness. The pair had their own reality show by 2011, but things took a turn for the worse. After two seasons, the couple took a break and Lamar was arrested for DUI. There were rumors he cheated on Khloe, too, which led to her filing for divorce in 2013.
Then, the breakdown reached its peak when, in October 2015, Lamar was found unconscious in a brothel in Nevada. He had taken a lethal mixture of drugs and alcohol. He was in a coma for a few days and was fighting for his life. Luckily, Lamar didn’t die, but he had suffered brain damage. He went to rehab and had to re-learn how to do basic things. At one point, he did blame his downfall on the reality show and the Kardashian family and there were claims that he felt exploited by them, even before the incident at the brothel.
1 Britney Spears
What would a list about celebrity breakdowns be without Britney Spears? You probably don’t need reminding of the time Britney shaved her head and attacked a paparazzi’s vehicle with an umbrella. But, we’re here to remind you, anyway. The pop star was on top of the world at one point—her poster was in every kid’s room, her concerts sold out, girls tried to be like her and guys drooled over her. What happened? Well, we can all confidently say that life for the pop princess took a turn for the worse the moment she met Kevin Federline. The couple married in late 2004 and had two children together, but in 2006, Britney filed for divorce. Shortly after, the singer shaved her head and admitted herself to treatment facilities. She also lost custody of her children. In 2008, she was put on an involuntary psychiatric hold and her father basically became in control of all her assets.
Of course, there were theories about the illuminati and mind control surrounding Spears, but let’s be real—she was a relatively young woman who was followed around 24/7 by paparazzi and was going through a divorce. It’s really not all that hard to see how she lost it for a while. While some sources claim Britney suffers from Bipolar or Borderline Personality Disorder, we can’t confirm that. What we can confirm is that Britney has since made an epic comeback (although, her real fans would say she never really left, as she did keep on releasing albums). We’re glad she’s doing better; she really is an inspiration to many.
Sources: MTV, Dailymail, ETOnline, TheSun, DailyMail, People