'I Certainly Feel No Shame': Kristen Bell Bravely Shares Her Struggle With Anxiety

by Jerriann Sullivan
Originally Published: 
Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images

Kristen Bell talks about her battle with anxiety and depression

Kristen Bell is an easy-to-love actress. She cries because she loves sloths and makes hilarious music videos with her husband, Dax Shepard. Her optimistic and cheerful nature is obvious, but recently she opened up about her battles with anxiety and depression. Her candid thoughts on both will only make you love her more.

“I’m extremely co-dependent. I shatter a little bit when I think people don’t like me,” Bell, 35, told Sam Jones in an interview with Off Camera. “That’s part of why I lead with kindness, and I compensate by being very bubbly all the time because it really hurts my feelings when I know I’m not liked. And I know that’s not very healthy and I fight it all the time.” You might wonder why would a successful actress would worry about not being liked. Well, simply put, that’s not how anxiety or depression work.

Generalized anxiety disorder is the persistent and unrealistic worry about everyday things. So even though there isn’t a reason to worry, the excessive feelings still show up. For Bell that meant that despite being popular, she found herself changing her interests to match those of her friends to feel more accepted.

It is refreshing to hear a public figure speak so sincerely about the less than stellar parts of her life. But it is also important for people to hear her message and know that they’re not alone. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. and affect 40 million adults in America, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. So about 18% of the U.S. population know exactly what Bell is talking about and are probably pretty happy she’s being so open about it. I know I do. I’ve battled anxiety since high school and have various coping mechanisms for when the panic sets in.

Therapy, yoga, meditation, running, and journaling have all helped me handle my anxiety. Bell does some of the same things, but she also does the best thing someone with anxiety or depression can do: take medicine. “I got on a prescription when I was really young to help with my anxiety and depression and I still take it today,” she said. “And I have no shame in that because my mom had said if you start to feel this way, talk to your doctor, talk to a psychologist and see how you want to help yourself.” It isn’t just Bell’s mom, who happens to be a nurse, but many medical professionals who urge those suffering from anxiety or depression to at least explore medication.

Despite being highly treatable, only about one-third of people with an anxiety disorder receive treatment. “And if you do decide to go on a prescription to help yourself, understand that the world wants to shame you for that,” Bell said. “But in the medical community, you would never deny a diabetic his insulin. Ever.”

In an image-obsessed world where actresses are expected and assumed to live perfect lives, it is quite brave of Bell to speak out about her battles with anxiety and depression, despite the stigma. “It’s a very interesting double standard that I often don’t have the ability to talk about but I certainly feel no shame about.”

Watch the full interview with Bell below.

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