Amanda Seyfried On Mental Illness: 'It Should Be Taken As Seriously As Anything Else’

by Jerriann Sullivan
Amanda Seyfried
Image via Jun Sato/Getty Images.

Amanda Seyfried opens up about her obsessive-compulsive disorder in candid interview

American actress Amanda Seyfried recently shared intimate details about her obsessive-compulsive disorder and her refreshingly honest interview is an inspiration for anyone who’s dealt with the stigma of mental health issues.

The 30-year-old’s fan database surged after her roles in “Mean Girls” and “Mama Mia!” but her comments on dealing with mental illness might reach (and ideally help) a lot more people. “I’m on Lexapro, and I’ll never get off of it. I’ve been on it since I was 19, so 11 years. I’m on the lowest dose,” Seyfried shared in the latest issue of Allure. “I don’t see the point of getting off of it. Whether it’s placebo or not, I don’t want to risk it. And what are you fighting against? Just the stigma of using a tool?” Most mental health experts would agree with the actress. While yoga, self-help books, and meditation can be helpful ways of dealing with stress, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking meds to help with mental health issues.

“A mental illness is a thing that people cast in a different category [from other illnesses], but I don’t think it is. It should be taken as seriously as anything else,” she explained. OCD is a long-term disorder that involves people having uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) they feel compelled to repeat, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. “You don’t see the mental illness: It’s not a mass; it’s not a cyst,” the actress explained. “But it’s there. Why do you need to prove it? If you can treat it, you treat it.” Exactly. Treating OCD, according to experts, primarily involves two things – therapy and medication.

But before someone can find the right treatment, they must be diagnosed, which often doesn’t happen in the U.S. thanks to our mental health stigmas. “Despite being common, mental illness is underdiagnosed by doctors,” according to the World Health Organization. “Less than half of those who meet diagnostic criteria for psychological disorders are identified by doctors.” Seyfried’s doctor recognized the signs. “I had pretty bad health anxiety that came from the OCD and thought I had a tumor in my brain. I had an MRI, and the neurologist referred me to a psychiatrist,” she reported. “As I get older, the compulsive thoughts and fears have diminished a lot. Knowing that a lot of my fears are not reality-based really helps.”

Being open and honest about our mental health also helps. In doing so, we give ourselves permission to speak openly about a still taboo topic while also telling those around us: You’re not alone and if I can seek help and find treatment so can you. And with 2.2 million of the U.S. population living with OCD we should be looking for ways to help ourselves and others. Hopefully, Seyfried’s decision to speak out about her mental illness will inspire others to find their path to treatment.