Amanda Seyfried recently told a magazine that she has panic attacks and gets therapy. She's one of the few to admit that being a Hollywood actress is pretty hard on the psyche — and to be open about treatment. And while we wouldn't wish mental health issues on any individual, there's an upside for society at large.
According to ABC, Seyfried told British Glamour about her anxiety and panic: "I'll start worrying about my parents or my dog, and I'll picture him opening the window of my apartment and falling out, even though I can't get that thing open myself." She said that public scrutiny of her relationship with Ryan Phillippe made things worse, but therapy has helped — it's "been such a great tool. … I still do get terribly nervous, and that's partly due to the fact [that] I think too much and overanalyze things."
Seyfried has a history of opening up about her difficulties. Last year, she told Esquire that she hated her all-spinach-all-the-time diet, and said elsewhere that she needed to stay skinny in order to get roles. She also took a Lexapro in front of an Esquire reporter, commenting, "Yeah, yeah, I'm anxious." It shouldn't be a big deal — as of 2005, over 30 million Americans were taking antidepressants — but admitting to being in therapy or taking meds is still less common in Hollywood than, say, entering rehab.
Other actresses have spoken about their mental issues. Brooke Shields famously struggled with postpartum depression, and Lorraine Bracco has discussed being depressed in the nineties. Still, it's not common to hear Hollywood stars talk about their shrinks — unless they're working their way back from publicly acknowledged addiction. It's almost as though unless you have a total breakdown, you're supposed to pretend everything's fine.
This mirrors the way women in Hollywood talk about weight. Some are public about how hard it is to maintain the body necessary to get roles, but mostly actresses only discuss it if they've had visible weight fluctuations. Otherwise, you're supposed to pretend you're a natural size zero who stays slim on a regimen of giant burgers and occasional pilates. Seyfried is one of the few to acknowledge that dieting for roles actually sucks — and not coincidentally, she's also one of the only ones to mention that Hollywood can do a number on your head.
Obviously starlets are lucky in a lot of ways — they generally have the money for therapy, and their stresses are not of the where-is-my-next-meal-coming-from variety. But spending your life eating spinach while your every relationship is exhaustively documented and analyzed isn't a recipe for serenity. And famous people are in a good position to help reduce the stigma around therapy and meds. If Seyfried can get therapy for her panic attacks instead of resorting to alcohol and drugs, that might help her fans do the same. And it might raise awareness about the importance of affordable therapy for those who don't have movie contracts to pay for it.