Celebrities, Civilians and Depression

Being in the public eye changes the way you look at life.

Posted May 16, 2018

Depression is a part of life. No one is immune. All of us have to deal with times of anguish and heartache, including those who you would think have no reason to ever feel down.

The roster of stars who have suffered from depression reads like the guest list to the Golden Globes. From Marilyn Monroe to Mike Wallace, there have been numerous accounts of severe emotional distress among A-list celebrities. 

One of the reasons may be that, for those who perform, nothing can compare to those moments when they’re in the spotlight. Actors and musicians I have worked with say that this is the place where they feel most alive. 

After a great performance or at the end of an arduous task, like making a movie, the void that sometimes appears could easily be interpreted as depression. This is a natural process. When we've had a wonderful experience, we want it to last forever, which just isn't realistic.

Another reason may lie in the nature of creativity itself. When people put out all their energy in an artistic act or emotional endeavor, their source of inspiration needs to refuel itself, and part of that process may be at the core of this type of distress.

This physical and psychological sensation may actually be necessary for anyone who creates to rekindle his or her energy. When this understanding is adopted, there are several techniques that a performer (or one of us regular people) can use to keep the blues at bay.

• Taking some quiet time to relax is the first step to recharge the creative source. Whether it’s having a cup of herbal tea while seated in first-class, taking a nap in the private bedroom of your tour bus, or just sitting quietly in your family room, getting serene as soon as possible after a big event can help you find balance. This process also involves remembering the joy of the previous action and tempering it with the understanding that the feeling of perceived emptiness is normal. 

• Engaging in positive activities is another way to beat the blues, and the tools used by elite entertainers are available to all of us. Creative guru Julia Cameron, the author of The Artist's Way, recommends writing every morning to overcome sadness. Perhaps Brooke Shields took her advice when she wrote her book about battling postpartum depression. 

• Volunteering your time to a good cause is another positive step, whether you’re famous or not. Alyssa Milano said that working at a children’s hospital in Los Angeles and for UNICEF lifted her from the lows. Singer/songwriter Kenny Loggins, in an interview on my radio show, shared that he got his mojo back by finding a great therapist, taking up long-distance running, and reconnecting with his family and friends.

If celebrities have depression, it helps the rest of us realize that, in some cases, it may be a natural part of life. Seeing how our icons successfully navigate through their dark days may give us the inspiration we need to heal in our own times of sorrow.