Actress Katherine Heigl is getting candid about her mental health journey.
In a recent interview with Yahoo Life, the Grey’s Anatomy alum credited anti-anxiety medication with totally changing her life. After being thrust into the spotlight early in her career, Heigl struggled to cope with public scrutiny, she recalled: “I wasn’t grounded or stable in my own self enough to not believe [the public’s perception of me]. I spent a lot of time in my early 30s worried that maybe they were right and I was this kind of person. But then defending myself, in my own mind, it’s like that horrible neuroses and anxiety.”
Her anxiety became easier to manage over time, especially as she got older. Still, her symptoms left her feeling unstable and alone. It wasn’t until Heigl sought out professional help — including a regimen of anti-anxiety medication — that she truly began to heal. “[Medication] essentially saved my life,” she shared.
Now, the 44-year-old actress has a new lease on life: “I wouldn’t be who I am right now with the life I have right now if I hadn’t gone through a lot of that: the career stuff, the mental health stuff, the loneliness and isolation. I wouldn’t have figured out how to take care of myself, and I can now.”
Would Heigl’s life be different if she had sought treatment earlier? “It would have saved me a lot of beating the shit out of myself,” she told Yahoo Life. She spent years erroneously believing that her struggles with anxiety were “a moral or character weakness.”
Heigl is not alone. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an estimated 31.1 percent of U.S. adults will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives. Telltale symptoms include nervousness, an impending sense of doom, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and issues with concentration. Unfortunately, many people who experience anxiety delay seeking treatment because of the internalized shame and stigma Heigl expressed.
This isn’t Heigl’s first time going public about her mental health struggles. While doing press for her role in Netflix’s Firefly Lane last January, the actress opened up about her personal support system — including her mother and husband, who encouraged her to try therapy and medication when her anxiety was at its worst.
“I didn’t realize how much anxiety I was living with until I got so bad that I had to really seek help,” she told The Washington Post at the time. “You can do a lot of inner soul work, but I’m a big fan of Zoloft.”
Take it from Heigl and the countless other celebrities who have spoken out about their anxiety struggles: Anxiety disorders are common, manageable with proper treatment, and absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.
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