Struggling with mental health issues like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be a lonely and isolating experience and they are far more common than most people realize. So it’s important to know that there are others, including many celebrities and famous people with PTSD, who have sought help, recovered, and shared their recovery stories.
What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
Being the victim of trauma or, in fact, just being a witness to any type of serious tragedy can have a lasting psychological impact on people.
It can alter the way a person perceives their place and safety in the world, leading to intense anxiety and other post-traumatic symptoms that make day-to-day life incredibly challenging.
PTSD is often associated with soldiers returning from combat and rightly so, but anyone can suffer from the condition after exposure to trauma.
Traumatic events can include violent combat during war, as well as violence in the home, like in the case of domestic or child abuse, emotional or verbal abuse, sexual assault or molestation.
Surviving a terrible accident or even watching one unfold can be incredibly traumatic and life changing.
Any person who experiences a life-threatening event or an incident they felt was life threatening can experience post-traumatic stress disorder. Most of the time we never hear about it unless a celebrities or famous people with PTSD talk about it openly and publicly.
Who is At-Risk and What are the Symptoms of PTSD?
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that an estimated 8 million people aged 18 and up battle PTSD. Additionally, nearly 4 percent of adults in the U.S. struggle with the condition in a given year.
There is no single universal way that people process trauma because everyone is different. One person may be able to brush the experience off over time, while another person may internalize the experience and struggle with the emotional pain for years.
People that suffered childhood trauma, like abuse, sexual assault, violence in the home or even serious disease are often intensely sensitive to perceived danger as they grow into adults and can be more prone to issues of PTSD.
Those who lack family or social support are also at high-risk, as well as those living with other psychiatric disorders and chronic stress.
Symptoms of PTSD can include:
- Ruminating or continually remembering the traumatic event
- Dreaming about the traumatic event or having flashbacks to it
- Thinking or talking about the event causes physical and mental distress
- Mood swings, from depression to irritability and irate outbursts
- Feeling detached, estranged or alone, even from loved ones
- Amnesia about some aspects of the event or events
- Difficulty sleeping
- Always on edge and an increased “startle” response
- Difficulty concentrating or focusing on any one thing
- Suicidal thoughts or ideations
- Increased us of alcohol or substances as a coping or escape mechanism
People with PTSD are three times more likely to suffer from a substance use disorder, research has shown. In many cases, people develop issues with alcohol and drugs as they attempt to self-medicate the difficult symptoms listed above.
PTSD is a treatable condition. With therapy and treatment for any other associated issues, people can and do recover and go on to lead healthy, productive lives.
For those with a co-occurring disorder of a mental health issue like PTSD combined with substance use addiction, dual diagnosis treatment is the most effective method of recovery.
Here are 9 Celebrities and Famous People With PTSD
As mentioned previously, anyone can struggle with the after effects of trauma or witnessing a traumatic event. Even fortune or fame doesn’t make a person immune, as exemplified by the famous people with PTSD listed here.
1. Oprah Winfrey
In her book, What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience and Healing, Oprah Winfrey opened up about a lot of the trauma she suffered as a child.
This included beatings that left her bloody to bearing witness to extreme violence between her grandfather and grandmother. Fortunately she has found a way to overcome the trauma.
2. Mick Jagger
Mick Jagger was said to be paralyzed with grief after a tragic incident when his girlfriend, fashion designer L’Wren Scott, died by suicide in the couple’s Manhattan apartment.
Shortly thereafter, Jagger’s doctors ordered the 71-year-old Rolling Stone to not tour for 30 days for fear that his condition could become worse.
3. Lady Gaga
In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, the mega-pop star Lady Gaga revealed that she suffered from PTSD after being repeatedly raped when she was 19 years old by someone that she knew.
Gaga said part of the reason she never dealt with the trauma appropriately was because once she got famous, her life was turned upside down.
4. Chris Brown
Poor impulse control and violent outbursts have plagued Chris Brown ever since he appeared in the public eye.
While in a court-mandated rehab for substance abuse, Brown was diagnosed with both bipolar disorder and PTSD, the latter related to what’s described as his “violent past.”
5. Alanis Morissette
In 1995, the now famous singer Alanis Morissette released the album “Jagged Little Pill,” which launched her into worldwide fame. Morissette, though, has described those years as incredibly traumatic, saying there was a period of time where she can’t remember laughing for two years.
“It was survival mode, you know. It was an intense, constant, chronic over-stimulation and invasion and physical literal space,” she’s said.
6. Shia LaBeouf
The actor Shia LaBeouf, like others, has certainly made the news for his battle with alcohol and getting into fights. In a 2018 interview, LaBeouf opened up his mother’s rape, an assault that he heard as a child, saying he “froze” as it was happening.
It wasn’t until his court-ordered rehab that he was diagnosed with PTSD and worked on the trauma that the experience left him with.
7. Ariana Grande
While it’s unclear if the pop star Ariana Grande has been diagnosed with PTSD, but she has been very open about a the trauma caused by a terrorist attack at her concert in Manchester, England, in 2017 that claimed the lives of 23 people.
“Music is supposed to be the safest thing in the world,” Grande said in an interview. “I think that’s why it’s still so heavy on my heart every single day.”
8. Tracy Morgan
Comic and actor Tracy Morgan was involved in a 2014 car accident when his van was rear-ended by a Wal-Mart tractor trailer at high-speeds. The crash not only left him with broken bones, but also with traumatic brain injury and PTSD, and the accident claimed the life of a dear friend.
Morgan was airlifted to a hospital and was in a coma for eight days. He has since returned to show business, but admitted that he struggled with survivor’s guilt, flashbacks, and anxiety every time he got into another car.
9. Whoopi Goldberg
In 1978, Whoopi Goldberg, the famed comedian and now co-host of “The View,” said she witnessed a mid-air collision between two planes, a tragedy that has significantly impacted her life.
Goldberg says she has battled a fear of flying since then, even growing emotional and experiencing flashbacks to that moment when she’s on an airplane and continues to receive therapy.
How Can Famous People With PTSD Help Others?
It’s quite common for some people in the general public to say celebrities need to stay in their lane and not use their status and media access to share their opinions about politics or other divisive issues.
That may be true, but at the same time, the stigma of mental health impacts all of society and overcoming the fear of seeking help is of the utmost importance.
Conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder can leave those impacted by it feeling detached and isolated or afraid to even talk about it, let alone ask for help.
Knowing that others have struggled and recovered, especially celebs and famous people with PTSD, can do wonders for everyone to feel more comfortable about pursuing treatment.
For this reason, it’s important for everyone to speak up, especially celebrities because many people look up to them.
As shown by the ones here, it is possible to recover and lead a successful and productive life after experiencing PTSD and we commend them for being open about their struggles and letting others know it is worth it to pursue treatment.
- Oprah Winfrey by Bill Ebbesen
- Mick Jagger by Gorup de Besanez
- Lady Gaga by Carlos M. Vazquez II
- Chris Brown by Joel Telling
- Alanis Morissette by Justin Higuchi
- Shia LaBeouf by DoD News Features
- Ariana Grande by Pure DOPE Magazine
- Tracy Morgan by Alex Erde
- Whoopi Goldberg by Mark Taylor