Even though actors, musicians and athletes live in the spotlight and perform in front of an audience on a daily basis, it’s enlightening to learn there are many famous people and celebrities with social anxiety disorders.
So it’s no surprise that regular people not in the limelight also struggle with anxiety.
Feeling anxious or stressed out is becoming an epidemic in the United States, especially for people who are working hard just to meet expectations. That being said, anxiety disorders are felt across every spectrum of the population and are currently the most common mental illness in the U.S.
Sadly a quarter of our children suffer from anxiety disorders and unfortunately this makes them prone to engage in substance abuse, as anxiety and addiction repeatedly go hand in hand. While anxiety disorders are highly treatable, approximately only a third of those suffering reach out and get the treatment they require to overcome them to live a healthy and stress-free life.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), over 40 million adults over the age of 18 suffer from an anxiety disorder.
Of these people, there are many highly successful famous people that are now stepping forward and sharing their experiences with social anxiety disorders. This is great news, as it helps the rest of us understand that we’re not alone.
Here we’ll explore 9 famous people who have opened up about their anxiety disorders, along with an insight into how they managed to combat their anxiety with tools like meditation, vitamins, yoga, creativity and exercise.
Celebrities With Anxiety Disorder
These stories of celebrities with anxiety serve as an inspiration and a path to success for anyone who struggles with anxiety disorders.
1. Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey is a talk show host, TV network owner and producer, actress, and author, famous the world over. Despite her worldwide fame, Oprah suffers from anxiety to this day.
Interestingly, Oprah’s anxieties manifested in not wanting to speak with some people or feeling awkward with others. This gives all of us hope, because if someone of her fame and notoriety can get over her anxiety and speak in front of the world, then we can all overcome mental health conditions like anxiety.
Like so many others, the root cause of Oprah’s adult anxiety disorder was trauma in childhood, more specifically sexual abuse. By overcoming her ongoing anxiety and using it as a fuel for her success, Oprah is a shining example of what is possible when we open up about our problems and use them as a powerful force in the world.
“Once you start to make changes, no matter how small, suddenly everything seems possible.”
– Oprah Winfrey
2. Kourtney Kardashian
Kourtney Kardashian is a model, media personality, and socialite, made famous by her 2007 reality TV show, “Keeping Up With The Kardashians.”
She is the eldest of three sisters who are all extremely popular in the social media world. When Kourtney opened up about her anxiety, she said that stress often causes her to feel nauseous.
Kourtney says, “Still when my anxiety is extreme, it feels like my body is constantly burning calories all day long.” She uses exercise to overcome feelings of anxiety, and her message is a positive one of self-love and exercise as a way of taking our minds off the feelings of anxiety.
“I just always wish that I had more time. But I feel like I want to cry,” she admitted through tears. “Just ’cause it, like, gives me anxiety and I don’t know why…. ’cause then I’m like, I have so much and I should just be so happy.”
– Kourtney Kardashian
3. Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift is a country and pop singer who has felt the pressure of fame encroaching on her personal life. In particular, Swift was publicly bullied by Kanye West and his wife Kim Kardashian in 2016.
She felt publicly misunderstood, but this gave her a reason to dig deep and develop trust in her close circle of friends and family.
One way that Swift has managed to battle her anxiety is with the vitamin L-theanine, which is a naturally derived amino acid that helps soothe the nervous system.
She, like others on this list, avoids smoking, drinking alcohol, caffeine, and focuses on relaxing activities like meditation and yoga to combat her anxiety.
“It can feel, at times, if you let your anxiety get the better of you like everybody’s waiting for you to really mess up — and then you’ll be done.”
– Taylor Swift
4. Stephen Colbert
Stephen Colbert is an award-winning television personality and actor that has opened up publicly about his anxiety.
Colbert had a breakdown after his marriage in 1993 and then had to be medicated (for 9 days) with xanax for his anxiety, before realizing that the drugs were just covering up his disorder.
Stephen has found that leaning into his work and on stage has helped him work through his anxiety. For him, creating and performing are not sources for his anxiety, but instead they actually help him cope with it.
“Creating something is what helped me from just spinning apart like an unweighted flywheel.”
– Stephen Colbert
Adele Laurie Blue Adkins MBE is a Grammy award-winning English singer and songwriter. Adele has publicly revealed that she suffers from severe anxiety attacks that make it hard to perform in front of large audiences.
During one concert, she vomited and then ran off stage and escaped through a fire exit, because her anxiety got so bad.
Adele manages her anxiety by imagining what Beyonce would do in her place, and also going to a therapist to help control her anxiety and depression.
Talking about her postpartum depression with other moms also helped Adele manage her depression. She has proven time and time again that the key to overcoming her mental disorders is opening up and asking for help.
“I don’t really need to stand out, there’s room for everyone.”
6. Missy Elliott
Melissa “Missy” Arnette Elliott is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer, and philanthropist.
Missy Elliott opened up about her lifelong struggles with anxiety in 2015 in an interview with Billboard. During her performance at the Super Bowl, Elliott had a full-blown panic attack that required medical attention.
Despite her success as a music artist, Missy Elliot is really quite shy. She is also very spiritual and relies on God to show her the way. When speaking to Billboard about the Super Bowl event she said:
“I know it was nothing but the grace of God that lifted me up and took me through that performance.”
– Missy Elliott
Related: Stress vs Anxiety
7. Whoopi Goldberg
Whoopi Goldberg is an American actress, comedian, author, and television personality.
Since witnessing a mid-air collision, Goldberg has suffered from the anxiety disorder “aerophobia” (fear of flying) for many years. This was debilitating for her, as she is required to fly to locations as part of her job.
Aerophobia is often treated with Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and Exposure Therapy. Goldberg enrolled in a “fly without fear” program to overcome her anxiety disorder.
“When you are kind to someone in trouble, you hope they’ll remember and be kind to someone else. And it’ll become like a wildfire.”
– Whoopi Goldberg
8. Kristen Bell
Kristen Bell is an American actress and singer and she has struggled with anxiety and depression her whole life.
Her condition deteriorates when she is overworked, and then she often cycles between both anxiety and depression.
Kristen is very open about her struggles with anxiety and has disclosed that she uses CBD oil, nature, gratitude, cooking, gardening and meditating to alleviate her anxiety.
She finds it hard to say no to people, which means that she often ends up overcommitted and she explained:
“I realized that my codependency was so crippling that I couldn’t say no to people. So what I’ve been doing this month is practicing saying no to people in a very kind way.”
– Kristen Bell
9. Joey Votto
Joey Votto is a professional Canadian Major League baseball player that plays for the Cincinnati Reds. Votto became debilitated with grief and anxiety after his father died at the young age of 52.
Votto’s anxiety heightened after the baseball season ended as he failed to find anything positive to focus on. Subsequently, he has been placed on the disabled list (DL) many times as he said that he was physically incapable of doing his job.
Fortunately, he had several hospital visits that eventually helped him on the path to recovery.
“Once I felt like I could get through two or three nights of sleep without having the phone beside me worrying about having to call the hospital, once I got through that, I felt like I could start playing ball again.”
– Joey Votto
Seeking Help for Anxiety
For anyone struggling with anxiety or depression, it’s essential to ask for help. There are many steps we can take to tackle debilitating mental health disorders such as anxiety, as we’ve learned from the above celebrities. No two stories are the same.
Oftentimes, celebrities (and others suffering from an anxiety disorder) do a great job of putting on a front, seeming as though they are not feeling panicked inside.
For some people, medication helps, while for others, the need to participate in therapy and creative work can alleviate the deep emotional feelings of anxiety.
Oprah Winfrey by Aphrodite in NYC
Kourtney Kardashian by Glenn Francis
Taylor Swift by David Shankbone
Stephen Colbert by Montclair Film
Adele by Marc E.
Missy Elliott by Atlantic Records
Whoopi Goldberg by Daniel Langer and Comic Relief, Inc.
Kristen Bell by Myles Kalus Anak Jihem
Joey Votto by Keith Allison