Celebs Who Suffer From Anxiety

Anxiety can manifest in many ways, from social anxiety that makes you unable to eat, drink, or talk around people, to generalized anxiety that makes your baseline stress level much higher than that of the average person. Let's not forget about obsessive compulsive disorder, which is considered a form of anxiety, or post traumatic stress disorder, which can be the result of a variety of trauma, including sexual assault.


According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States with 18 percent of the population (that's 40 million adults — this doesn't even include childhood anxiety) experiencing it in any given year, with almost 30 percent experiencing it sometime in their lives.

It should be no surprise then that several celebs have dealt with varying types and levels of anxiety, but the stigma around mental illness keeps some of them from talking about it. Lucky for us, more stars are opening up about their anxiety, encouraging people to accept that anxiety isn't something to be ashamed of and is, instead, a very treatable condition that millions of Americans deal with firsthand.


Emma Stone

If you've been paying attention at all in the past several years, you know Emma Stone. From The Amazing Spider-Man to her Oscar-winning turn in La La Land, the actress has some major success under her belt. But you might be surprised to learn that the same actress who seems quirky and confident, has dealt with panic attacks since she was a child. She told the Wall Street Journal all about it during an interview in 2015.


"It was really bad. The first time I had a panic attack I was sitting in my friend's house, and I thought the house was burning down. I called my mom and she brought me home, and for the next three years it just would not stop. I would go to the nurse at lunch most days and just wring my hands. I would ask my mom to tell me exactly how the day was going to be, then ask again 30 seconds later. I just needed to know that no one was going to die and nothing was going to change."

Stone told Vogue that while she does still get panic attacks, including on the set of Crazy, Stupid, Love, acting — and comedy, in particular — helps her cope.

Jennifer Lawrence

The strong and fiery Katniss Everdeen was a role that seemed made for Jennifer Lawrence, but the actress told French magazine Madame Figaro that before she got her anxiety in check, she felt worthless. She told the magazine (translated from French by Huffington Post), that like Stone, acting helped her manage her anxiety.


"I went to see a shrink, nothing worked. One day, I begged my parents to take me to a casting, we went to New York and that's where I started acting. Just on stage, my mother saw the change that was taking place in me. She saw my anxieties disappear. She found her daughter, the one who had this light and joy before school. I finally found a way, [opening] the door to a universe that I understood, that was good for me and made me happy, because I felt capable, whereas before I felt worthless. This is why mom fought for me to be an actress."

In addition to using acting to help her cope, Lawrence told The New York Times that she has a prescription for her anxiety and also tries to remember to let it go and be herself.


Sarah Silverman

Anxiety often goes hand in hand with depression and that's the case for comedian Sarah Silverman, who, on top of her depression, told Glamour that she also had panic attacks.

"I couldn't deal with being with my friends, I didn't go to school for months, and I started having panic attacks. People use 'panic attack' very casually out here in Los Angeles, but I don't think most of them really know what it is. Every breath is labored. You are dying. You are going to die. It's terrifying. And then when the attack is over, the depression is still there." Silverman credits her friends along with a combination of prescription medication and therapy to keep her depression and panic attacks under control, despite still feeling their effects, on occasion.


She also told Glamour, "I wouldn't wish depression on anyone. But if you ever experience it, or are experiencing it right now, just know that on the other side, the little joys in life will be that much sweeter. The tough times, the days when you're just a ball on the floor — they'll pass. You're playing the long game, and life is totally worth it."

Mara Wilson

You probably know Mara Wilson best as the child star of Matilda and Miracle on 34th Street. While Wilson has taken a break from acting in recent years, she's still been busy. Part of that work is being an advocate for people who, like herself, suffer from anxiety, OCD, and depression. As part of Project UROK, she talked about her experiences with anxiety and depression, and how she combats it.


"I've basically been an anxious person all my life. I have suffered from anxiety, I have obsessive compulsive disorder...I've dealt with depression," she said in the video. "I wish somebody had told me that it's okay to be anxious, that you don't have to fight it. That, in fact, fighting it is the thing that makes it worse. That pushing it away is really what it is, it's the fear of fear....I wish that I had fought my depression and not fought my anxiety as much."

Wilson also hosts the monthly theater show What Are You Afraid Of, celebrating fears and phobias and actually laughing about them. Wilson leads the audience through breathing exercises during the show to help them understand not only how to do them properly, but why they help with anxiety.


Lena Dunham

Lena Dunham may come off as totally in-your-face with a devil may care attitude, but she's suffered from anxiety since she was a child. "I don't ever remember a time not being anxious. I know a lot of people will say, it was so great to be a kid, what a carefree moment! I don't remember a single second of being alive where it didn't seem like there was looming disaster," The Playlist reported her saying, at a 92nd Street Y event in early 2017.


Dunham went on to add, "I think that probably the first four years of my life my parents were probably like we have a kind of quirky and unusual child who sometimes tends to have a glass half empty attitude." But when things took a turn for the worse, including tics and quirks that kept Dunham's parents up at night, she started taking medication to quell the anxiety.

In a recent People exclusive, Dunham shared that she suffers from both a generalized anxiety disorder and OCD and feels lucky that her parents were comfortable with talking about these issues and treatment. "I would tell my younger self that there's no shame in asking a teacher for help, in telling a friend that you're uncomfortable," she said.


Amanda Seyfried

We've all heard alcohol described as "liquid courage," or been advised that a drink can help calm your nerves, but for Amanda Seyfried, turning to alcohol in the face of anxiety grew into a bigger issue. Seyfried revealed to Vogue (via Glamour) that she turned to therapy after she got drunk before appearing on The Late Show with David Letterman in 2012.


According to the article, Seyfried drank shots of whiskey to calm her nerves and got "pretty drunk." While Seyfried realized being drunk wasn't the image she wanted to have for herself, she is glad it made her tackle her anxiety head on. She told Vogue, "I have a lot of anxiety that I've been struggling with my whole life. So I have been working through it. I'm terrified, but this is exactly what I wanted."

Seyfried also opened up to Allure, revealing she has OCD and is taking Lexapro, which she doesn't intend to ever stop taking. "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," she said. "And what are you fighting against? Just the stigma of using a tool? A mental illness is a thing that people cast in a different category [from other illnesses], but I don't think it is. It should be taken as seriously as anything else. You don't see the mental illness: It's not a mass; it's not a cyst. But it's there."


Kristen Stewart

Twilight actress Kristen Stewart told Marie Claire about her history of anxiety. "Between ages 15 and 20, it was really intense," she said. "I was constantly anxious. I was kind of a control freak. If I didn't know how something was going to turn out, I would make myself ill, or just be locked up or inhibited in a way that was really debilitating."


She went on to say that with age, she has learned to let things go and not get bogged down every time she thinks she has said or done the wrong thing. "I'm really proud that I am able to move forward and not fall into every mental crater. That's a new thing for me. Age has made me smarter and calmer. And it is f**king awesome."

While Stewart told Elle U.K. that she outgrew her anxiety, her anxiety used to present in very real and physical ways. "I went through so much stress and periods of strife. I would have panic attacks...I literally always had a stomach ache," she said.

Demi Lovato

Singer Demi Lovato is no stranger to talking about mental illness. In fact, she helped launch Be Vocal to encourage others to talk about their struggles, like her own struggle with bipolar disorder. While you may not think of anxiety when you hear bipolar disorder, mental illnesses often go hand in hand and that includes bipolar disorder and anxiety.


Lovato described to Huffington Post, "I've actually had anxiety to the point where I've felt drugged. I actually ended up having problems with my thyroid because I was so stressed out and so anxious at times in my life," she said. "I remember one time I actually went to the hospital because I physically felt like I had been drugged; I was having an anxiety attack."

Ashley Benson

You probably know Ashley Benson best as Hanna in ABC's Pretty Little Liars, but you may not know that Benson has a history of anxiety and panic attacks that she still experiences, on occasion. She told Health, "I started getting panic attacks for two years straight. I think it was 2011 to 2013. I could barely go to work. It would get so bad that I would have to leave set." She went on to share that while the panic attacks were happening daily at that time, they're much less frequent now.


"I do still get them a little bit. That's part of why I work out, too, because it has cancelled out the anxiety," she said. "I was on Xanax for a long time. It helped, but I decided I was going to be able to self-medicate through meditation, working out, sleeping, eating healthy and drinking more water."

Anxiety is treatable

While some people like Benson can manage their symptoms of anxiety without the use of medication, there is no shame in taking it if and when you need to. Talk to your doctor if you're experiencing anxiety or panic attacks you can't manage on your own. Medication alone may be the choice for you, or you may decide — like Ellie Goulding, who used a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and medication to combat her anxiety — that therapy is a good choice as well.


For the self-management of anxiety, in combination with medication and therapy, the Mayo Clinic recommends getting enough exercise, avoiding alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes, using relaxation techniques, getting enough sleep, and eating healthy. There are also many websites that can help you find the right therapist or psychiatrist to help you along the way. If you're suffering from anxiety, you are not alone.