Getting to Happy: Celebrities Who Have Battled Depression in the Public Eye

May 29, 2012 ‐ By Stephanie Guerilus

Depression is still very much a taboo in this society where the open discussion of the mental illness is met with silence or people are told to “go to church” as opposed to seeking help from medical professionals.  There is such a stigma still attached to the disease that cause many to choose to suffer all alone. This scenario is especially true in the African-American community.

For celebrities who are image conscious, there’s even more of a burden to maintain the status quo of assumed perfection. However, these seven courageous stars have pulled the veil down on the disease. They’ve shared their stories and inspired others to come out and seek help in the process.




Janet Jackson

Janet has always been open about the lows which have offset the highs in her incredible career. Her struggles with food, her weight, career ups and downs, self esteem and relationship troubles have contributed to her depression. Prior to the release of her album, The Velvet Rope and after the death of her brother, Jackson battled with depression. So many believe that life of a star is one of power, prestige and privilege, but Janet has never sugar-coated the underbelly of what so much success means. Despite her heavy heart at times, she still manages a smile that inspires: “I tend to, I have this thing where I tend to smile when things get a little…painful, that is just my, a protective shield I guess.”

MadameNoire Video

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  • Elizabeth

    I had really hoped this would be about clinical depression, the true illness, not situational depression, which happens to everyone. BIG difference.

  • not a fan

    i think African-American’s fear of the seeking medical assistance stems from our history of being victims of unethical medical practices. We also are a people that have endured so much that sum little thing like depression should roll right off our shoulders (sarcasm). I suffered from depression and so did my little brother and mom but we were told that we were weak and to “get over it.” It wasn’t until college that I sought therapy and my family roasted me for it till this day. There’s nothing wrong with seeking help. I’m glad these ppl are better now. one day at a time.

    • Nestafan2

      I’m glad you sought therapy and I hope you’re feeling better.  Depression is like diabetes; it doesn’t just spring from one particular thing, and it has to be maintained for the rest of your life.  Experiencing sadness due to one or two failures does not qualify as depression in my opinion.

      • Theo

        I second Nestafan2.  I wouldn’t tell someone to their face their bad test score or low selling album did not constitute depression.  But for someone who has lived with it, it is more serious.  What’s hard is as an African American, you can see your life as a struggle in a different sense than say, Brittany Spears.  To think you will never succeed, or that you aren’t good enough, or smart enough, is real considering discrimination still exists in America.  

        For me I’ll be in treatment for my life, it is like diabetes.  To have a mental disease bites cuz you don’t know where your motivation comes from, or rather, where it went.  

  • You forgot Phyllis Hyman Madame Noire!  Her bout was legendary.  And don’t forget Britney Spears.

  • Mssroney

    Black ppl are so scared of the dr, u need help get it, just jesus aint gonna fix everything, get out of the dark ages and stop waiting for the church to fix u, u need to fix u, talk to a professional, being moody is not normal

  • Mariah? Mi mi?  Dang…

  • I think sadness is being confused with depression with some of these. Depression is clinical and should not be confused with being “a little sad, down” etc. In any event, I’m glad these ladies have been able to work  through it.

  • IllyPhilly

    “Go to church.” YES, I would hear that all the time when I came home from Iraq. Unless the pastor was a soldier over there (which he wasn’t) he wouldn’t and didn’t understand. 

    • Jimmy Swaggerd

      Thank you for your service.

  • L-Boogie

    I am glad that they have gotten better.