5 Mental Illnesses Many Actors Face on a Daily Basis

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Acting can bring out emotions which can negatively affect their lives. Here are 5 common mental illnesses many actors face.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, mental disorders are extremely common in the US and affect tens of millions of people each year, of which only a few people actually receives treatment.

Acting brings out realistic emotions to performances and is typically done by drawing on personal experience.  Raymond Hamden, doctor of Clinical and Forensic Psychology, defines the purpose of method acting as “compartmentalizing their own feelings while playing another character [so] they could bring the emotions of that personal feeling to cry if they needed to with that character.”

However, when these emotions are not separated, they can effect and impact on other facets of life, often seeming to disrupt the actor’s psyche. This occurs as the actor delves into previous emotional experiences, be they joyful or traumatic.

The psychological effects of method acting vary in intensity from individual to individual. Some common effects include;

  • Fatigue
  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Shame
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Personality changes
  • Psychotic disorders.

But, here are the most common mental illnesses actors face on a daily basis:


360b / Shutterstock.com

Everyone occasionally feels blue or sad. But these feelings are usually short-lived and pass within a couple of days. When you have depression, it interferes with daily life and causes pain for both you and those who care about you. Depression is a common but serious illness. [NIMH]

With constant rejection, heartbreaking roles, it is no wonder many actors face depression. Jim Carrey revealed he took the medication Prozac for many years for his battle with depression. Depression was a constant battle for Carrey who is now off medication and uses his spirituality to stay mentally healthy. Talk to your doctor about possible treatment options for depression.

Bipolar Disorder

Joe Seer / Shutterstock.com
Joe Seer / Shutterstock.com

Numerous articles have been written, linking bipolar mood disorder with artistry. In 2008, a study at the Stanford University School of Medicine found that those with the condition expressed “enhanced creativity,” but recommended more research to determine why.

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. They are different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through from time to time. Bipolar disorder symptoms can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. But bipolar disorder can be treated, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives. [NIMH]

In 2013, Catherine Zeta-Jones completed treatment for Bipolar disorder. The actress “proactively” checked herself into a mental health facility for a 30-day program, but she’s now back at home, according to her husband, Michael Douglas. “It’s not easy. I’m not the kind of person who likes to shout out my personal issues from the rooftops, but with my bipolar becoming public, I hope fellow sufferers will know it’s completely controllable,” Zeta-Jones told InStyle magazine in its December 2012 issue. “I hope I can help remove any stigma attached to it, and that those who don’t have it under control will seek help with all that is available to treat it.”

Other actors facing Bipolar Disorder include Jean-Claude Van Damme, Mel Gibson, and Russell Brand.


Leonardo DiCaprio

Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, and disabling brain disorder that has affected people throughout history. People with the disorder may hear voices other people don’t hear. They may believe other people are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts, or plotting to harm them. This can terrify people with the illness and make them withdrawn or extremely agitated.

People with schizophrenia may not make sense when they talk. They may sit for hours without moving or talking. Sometimes people with schizophrenia seem perfectly fine until they talk about what they are really thinking. [NIMH]

Veronica Lake was a famous Hollywood actress of the 1940s was known for her performances in movies, television, as well as on stage. She is widely remembered for her role in Sullivan’s Travels and her roles with Alan Ladd during the 1940s. Her career flourished early on, but experienced a decline as a result of alcoholism and mental illness. She had a troubled childhood and according to her mother, was diagnosed with schizophrenia.


Andrey Bayda / Shutterstock.com
Andrey Bayda / Shutterstock.com

Do you find it difficult to memorize lines? You may be facing Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood disorders and can continue through adolescence and adulthood. Symptoms include difficulty staying focused and paying attention, difficulty controlling behavior, and hyperactivity (over-activity). [NIMH]


About 60% of children diagnosed with ADHD will continue to experience these symptoms well into adulthood. And some people with the disorder don’t receive an official diagnosis until middle age. Playing pint-size Peter on the original Brady Bunch television series, Knight, 56, had a hard time learning his lines. Finally, in 1997, he was diagnosed with ADHD. He sought treatment to help manage his condition and served as a spokesperson for the National Consumer League’s AD/HD campaign.

The two-time Oscar nominee told Rolling Stone that as a child he was “the fun one who had trouble paying attention… I was a ‘B’ student who should’ve been getting A’s… Today they’d diagnose me as a child with ADHD.” Even if that was the case, he hasn’t let his focus issues interfere with his life. In addition to being extremely successful as an actor, rapper and producer, he’s also a devoted family man with three children, including Jaden andWillow Smith, who act and rap, just like their dad.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

cinemafestival / Shutterstock.com
cinemafestival / Shutterstock.com

Everyone double checks things sometimes. For example, you might double check to make sure the stove or iron is turned off before leaving the house. But people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) feel the need to check things repeatedly, or have certain thoughts or perform routines and rituals over and over. The thoughts and rituals associated with OCD cause distress and get in the way of daily life.

The frequent upsetting thoughts are called obsessions. To try to control them, a person will feel an overwhelming urge to repeat certain rituals or behaviors called compulsions. People with OCD can’t control these obsessions and compulsions. Most of the time, the rituals end up controlling them. [NIMH]

Charlize Theron recently admitted to suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD. “I have OCD, which is not fun,” she told Australian radio show Kyle and Jackie O. “I have to be incredibly tidy and organized or it messes with my mind and switches off on me.”

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