Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can happen to anyone, and there are many celebrities and famous people with PTSD who have come forward to share their stories.
Following the experience of a traumatic event, it’s not uncommon for people to suffer from anxiety and intense posttraumatic symptoms.
If these symptoms persist for more than several months, then PTSD could be diagnosed.
People with PTSD who are most at risk include individuals with a history of child abuse, those that lack social support, as well as people who experience on-going chronic stress or another psychiatric disorder.
What Does PTSD Stand For?
PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. For people with PTSD to be diagnosed as according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), he or she must have been exposed to a life-threatening event, or an event perceived as such.
Additionally, the symptoms listed below must persist for at least one month.
The symptoms of PTSD include:
- Persistent recollections of traumatic event
- Intense psychological or physiological distress
- Detachment or estrangement
- Problems sleeping
- Irritability or angry outbursts
- Hyper vigilance
- Increased startle response
- Problems concentrating
- Suicidal ideation
To escape from suffering with the effects, people with PTSD often turn to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism.
What Does PTSD Mean?
Over the past five centuries PTSD has been called many names, such as shell shock, soldier’s heart, nostalgia, combat neurosis or fatigue, and neurocirculatory asthenia.
People with PTSD do not suffer alone as an estimated 44.7 million people around the world struggle with the condition according to PTSD United.
Of that figure, 24.4 million people with PTSD are in the United States, although the number is worse in post conflict regions where people have suffered mass-violence or war.
Many famous people and celebrities with PTSD have stepped up and told their stories about their struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder.
This has opened the door for the condition to become more socially acceptable and motivating a greater number people with PTSD to seek treatment.
PTSD is treatable for those who ask for help and discuss how they are feeling, like the famous people with PTSD mentioned here.
10 Celebrities and Famous People With PTSD
1. Ariana Grande
Singer and songwriter Ariana Grande has opened up about her struggles with PTSD. The trigger for her PTSD was the suicide bombing at her concert that killed 22 people in Manchester, UK, in May 2017.
Interestingly, she had a brain scan that showed the physical impact that PTSD has had on her brain. She publicly shared the brain scan with her fans on Instagram and they are showing a great deal of support over the ordeal.
Grande famously stated that therapy saved her life.
2. Whoopi Goldberg
Unsurprisingly, actress, talk show host, and comedienne Whoopi Goldberg spends a lot of her time jet setting around the world for her work.
What many people don’t know is that each time she boards a plane she has a panic attack.
In 1978 she was standing on a balcony in San Diego, enjoying the view when she witnessed a plane crash mid-flight. Since then she has struggled to board flights.
Whoopi says, “If I see it, it lives in my brain,” due to being a visual person. Goldberg grew up in a deprived housing project and had learning disabilities.
3. Mick Jagger
Sir Mick Jagger is celebrated around the world for being the front man of the wildly successful band The Rolling Stones. But fame doesn’t protect people from suffering from acute traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.
He developed the condition after his 49-year-old long-term partner L’Wren Scott took her own life. After one month of acute traumatic stress, a person can be diagnosed with PTSD.
Mick Jagger was reportedly “deeply upset” when his mental health condition was shared with the world. For the rest of us, it’s good to see that nobody is immune to suffering the effects of PTSD.
4. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (Jackie Kennedy for short) was the wife of President John F. Kennedy. Her world was turned upside down when she witnessed JFK’s assassination.
She suffered in silence and little was known about her struggles, until Barbara Leaming wrote “Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: The Untold Story,” which outlines the first lady’s emotional struggles that were hidden behind a veil of glamour.
5. Monica Seles
By the age of 16, Monica Seles was a grand-slam winner and the world’s Number 1 tennis player. Just a few years later, she was literally stabbed in the back with a nine-inch kitchen knife at the age of 19 during a court break at a match in Hamburg.
This event, combined with learning that her father had terminal cancer around the same time, lead to years of PTSD and an eating disorder.
Monica has learned to “live in the moment” and had a comeback before retiring from the sport. She worked through the loneliness and stress by herself and learned to love herself again.
She gained a lot of weight during the two years after her traumatic event, and Seles chronicled her battles with self-image in her book, “Getting a Grip: On My Body, My Mind, My Self.”
6. Shia LaBeouf
In 2018, 31-year-old Shia LaBeouf opened up about his struggles with PTSD. His parents separated when he was just three years of age and at this time he overheard his mother being raped.
Childhood trauma in adults is quite common and his emotional battles were long hidden, until they became apparent when he was arrested for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct in Georgia.
Since he was a child LaBeouf has always lived with the fear of someone coming after him or his mother. He says “I’ve always thought somebody was coming in.” While in rehab, he found out that he had PTSD.
7. Barbra Streisand
Barbra Streisand is an Oscar winning megastar. Her childhood was far from perfect though. In addition to her father dying when she was just 15 months old, her mother failed to show her any love and her stepfather didn’t like her.
Streisand developed anxiety while performing at a concert in New York when she forgot the lyrics to a song. As a perfectionist, this event affected Streisand quite profoundly.
She reportedly disclosed that she used anti-anxiety medication to get over her seasonal depression and anxiety disorder. Streisand is notoriously reclusive and doesn’t like to leave the perfection of her own home where she can control what is happening.
8. Alanis Morissette
Canadian singer-songwriter Alanis Morisette is a self-confessed “attention junkie.” However her sudden unexpected rise to fame left her suffering panic attacks and depression.
As an isolated person, people observing her every move became intolerable. she says. “It’s taken a lot of work and therapy to just not be suicidal.”
Alanis didn’t know what she had signed up for when she became such a big star. She had therapists who would call her while on the road, because she struggled with all of the attention.
In therapy, Alanis worked through love addiction, sex addiction, and addiction in general.
9. Lady Gaga
Several years ago, Grammy Award winning performer Lady Gaga (Stefani Germanotta) opened up about her PTSD.
She suffers from PTSD due to being raped by an older man in her Catholic school at the age of 19.
Lady Gaga has opened up many times about how the trauma had lasting effects and she re-lives the experience years after the event occurred. She gets therapy for PTSD and the symptoms, which had an impact on her work commitments.
While collecting a patron award at the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s third annual Patron of the Artists Awards, Lady Gaga called the mental health epidemic a “crisis of epic proportions.”
10. Charlize Theron
Renowned South African actress Charlize Theron had a traumatic experience during her childhood that has haunted her throughout her life.
When Theron was 15 years of age her father (an alcoholic) threatened to kill her mother and she shot him, killing him in self-defense.
The trauma led to hard drug use including “molly” (ecstasy), LSD, mushrooms and cocaine. She used to explain herself as a “wake and baker.” Theron is a mother and says that therapy has helped her create a great life for her kids.
13 More Celebrities and Famous People With PTSD
In addition to the ones mentioned above, here are more famous people with PTSD who have spoken about their struggles and how treatment has helped them overcome the symptoms and live a healthier life.
- Oprah Winfrey
- Lily Allen
- Chris Brown
- Kelsea Ballerini
- Tracy Morgan
- Mel B
- Paris Jackson
- Aimee Mann
- Rosie Perez
- Monica Lewinsky
- Gabrielle Union
- Reese Witherspoon
PTSD Can Happen To Anyone, But It is Treatable
PTSD does not discriminate by age, wealth, success or fame. Trauma is a deep-rooted issue that can re-emerge years after the traumatic event has occurred, as some of these famous people with PTSD have described in their own stories.
Thankfully, mental illnesses like PTSD are out in the open and becoming less taboo. Post-traumatic stress disorder is often worse in individuals who have had a problematic childhood or existing mental health issues.
Many in the addiction treatment community are well aware that there is a clear link between PTSD and addiction.
Food, drugs, and alcohol are often used to temporarily numb the pain of mental illness. For this reason, dual diagnosis treatment is crucial for overcoming mental health disorders combined with addiction for a full recovery.