Kristen Bell Talks Lifelong Battle With Anxiety And Depression

By McCarton Ackerman 05/10/16

The Frozen star credits an early conversation with her mom about her family history of depression, as the reason she sought help.

Kristen Bell Talks Lifelong Battle With Anxiety And Depression
Photo pinguino k/Wikimedia Commons

Kristen Bell is known for her solid acting resume—she made a name for herself through the popular TV series Veronica Mars, and with her starring roles in Frozen and House of Lies—but off the set, she admits to being a much more insecure person.

Speaking on Off Camera with Sam Jones, Bell explained that she’s dealt with depression and anxiety from an early age. Despite being popular in high school and cultivating a successful acting career, she admitted to host Sam Jones that she was always "nervous right under the surface that someone would reject me" and would mold herself to appease her peers. This was an early sign of how “extremely codependent” she was, and still is, she explained. 

"I shatter a little bit when I think people don't like me," said Bell. "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."

Her mother, a nurse, sat Bell down when she was 18 and revealed her family's history of depression. "She said there is a serotonin imbalance in our family line, and it can often be passed from female to female," she said. Bell's grandmother was one of the first people used to test electroshock therapy. "She would lock herself in her bedroom and drink for two days, and they would slide food under the door. It was rough," she told Jones. "It certainly affected my mom and broke her a little bit."

Bell credited her mother with having “the wherewithal to recognize [depression] in herself,” and that their conversation was the catalyst for her to begin receiving help for herself. The 35-year-old began taking medication to keep her anxiety and depression in check from an early age, and still uses it to this day. "I have no shame in that," she said. 

She echoed her mother, who told her: "If you do decide to go on a prescription to help yourself, understand that the world wants to shame you for that. But in the medical community, you would never deny a diabetic his insulin," she said. "But for some reason, when someone needs a serotonin inhibitor, they're immediately crazy or something."

Watch Kristen Bell's conversation with Sam Jones in the video below:

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.