Why Successful People Struggle with Mental Illness


When normal people see celebrities or anyone famous, they see the glitz, glamour, and scandals that are spread through the media. These rich and famous people are the standard of success in society. Although success can be measured in many ways, wealth is usually the top criteria. So why is it that successful people struggle with mental illness? Why have so many celebrities committed suicide and given up all they have worked for? After all, aren’t they the role models that all the average Joes strive to be like? To find happiness in that success, that seems to be lacking to those who achieve it?

The reality is, according to Dr. Crystal Lee, owner of LA Concierge Psychologist, that “Many of the characteristics needed to be a successful entrepreneur align with some symptoms of mental illness. For example, those with bipolar disorder think big and reach for the stars. They can be visionaries that think outside of the box and create highly ambitious goals and plans.”


Here is a list of a few out of many successful people who struggle from mental illness:

  1. Demi Lovato: Bipolar disorder, Bulimia, and Addiction
  2. Chris Evans: Social Anxiety
  3. James Franco: Addiction and Depression
  4. Kesha: Eating Disorder
  5. Lady Gaga: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  6. Hayden Panettiere: Postpartum Depression
  7. Brittany Snow: Anorexia
  8. Mayim Bialik: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  9. Zayn Malik: Anxiety and Eating Disorder
  10. Sophie Turner: Eating Disorder, Depression, and Anxiety

The common thread between these successful people, along with hundreds of others who have come out to the public and those who haven’t, is performance anxiety. As a celebrity, they are expected to always look their best. Body image can take a toll on the most common of people. Social media has only added to the misery of feeling self-doubt. As an entrepreneur, businessperson, or scientist, they are expected to improve the world and make great financial decisions or technological breakthroughs. “On a practical level, it’s very difficult to balance a demanding career and your well-being. As you rise higher, you also face greater pressure to perform, which can lead to self-doubt. The flip side of being smart and accomplished is that it’s easy to fall into traps of overthinking and worrying.” Melody Wilding, a licensed social worker and career coach who works with high achievers. 

The worst part of it all is that asking for help is a stigma in society. Those who seek help are considered weak or maybe even crazy. Being looked down upon only adds to the stress, anxiety, and depression that may be the beginning of a devastating mental illness. But those who have survived, will say that going to therapy was the best decision of their life. 

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