Celebrities often seem to live perfect lives. They have wealth, fans, and seemingly everything they might want. Photographs pop up showcasing their travels and what they do for fun or when away from a movie set or recording studio. However, underneath all the makeup, the status and the attention, every single celebrity is, in fact, human. They deal with the same issues everyday people experience on a daily basis. Some of these issues connect directly to anxiety, depression and other mental conditions. Jennifer Lawrence, the star of The Hunger Games franchise has come out in recent months to discuss her own ongoing battle with social anxiety. Unlike many other celebrities who keep their personal conditions a secret in order to maintain an ideal appearance to the outside world, Jennifer Lawrence stands as one of the few celebrities with anxiety who openly and honestly discusses her condition, how it’s affected her, and what she’s done both in the past and currently to combat her anxiety.
Social Anxiety And Bipolar Disorders
Anxiety is not a one-size-fits-all disorder. There are many variations, with most affecting people differently, including different triggers and sensitivity. Anxiety and its many forms also affect a larger portion of the U.S. population than many may believe. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (2018), anxiety disorders are the most common in the United States and affect 40 million people over the age of 18. This roughly translates to around 18.1 percent of the entire nation’s population. However, despite nearly one in five Americans suffering from a form of anxiety, only 36.9 percent of those are ever treated. When not identified and treated, people suffering from anxiety are more likely to experience additional medical conditions, often connected to further psychiatric disorders due to the original anxiety not receiving the necessary professional attention.
There are a number of different anxiety disorders. The most common within the U.S. are generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder (PD), social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), persistent depressive disorder (PPD), and more specific phobias and major depressive disorders. Many suffer from multiple disorders, with social anxiety disorder as one of the more common avenues of anxiety. As the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) statistics indicate, 6.8 percent of the U.S. population (15 million adults) is affected by the social anxiety disorder. It affects both women and men equally, with signs generally appearing around the age of 13, although it can manifest at any point in a person’s life. Within a study conducted by the ADAA, 36 percent of those who do suffer from social anxiety disorder reported experiencing symptoms for at least a full decade before receiving any kind of help. As specific social settings would trigger bouts of anxiety, many people simply avoid social settings, which hinders not only their ability to make new friends network for business or take part in important family gatherings, but it may stunt their mental growth with regards to social interactions.
According to Everyday Health (2018), 80 percent of people who suffer from social anxiety also suffer from other mental disorders, including bipolar disorders. Bipolar disorder is also referred to as manic-depressive illness and often results in sudden and severe mood swings, which can make functioning in certain settings challenging. Social anxiety is a general fear of what others think or that they will be openly criticized in a social setting. As Everyday Health points out, there are a handful of indicators someone who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder may also suffer from social anxiety. These indicators include social anxiety symptoms that started extremely early on in childhood (including when a child first makes the transition into school), panic attacks out of fear certain social situations and settings bring about, which can also lead to depression or manic behavior. There might be a poor response to the more traditional forms of bipolar disorder treatment, and there may be additional signs of anxiety and problems with sleeping, even when the individual is not experiencing manic mood swings.
For many people, it can prove challenging to opening discuss anxiety, bipolar disorders, and other mental conditions. However, in recent years, many big-name celebrities have opened up about their own personal battles with depression, anxiety and other mental conditions they have battled through. One such Hollywood celebrity who has become a household name and yet has been extremely vocal about her own bouts with anxiety is actress Jennifer Lawrence.
Who Is Jennifer Lawrence?
Jennifer Lawrence is an American actress best known for her leading role in The Hunger Games. With her appearance in these movies, she became the highest-paid female actor in both 2015 and 2016. However, she didn’t grow up in the Hollywood limelight.
Jennifer Lawrence grew up in the small town of Indian Hills, Kentucky that has a population of around 3,000 residents. This didn’t mean she came from a poor family though. In fact, Indian Hills is one of the highest-income suburbs of Louisville. While growing up, the acting bug hit her early and she took part in church and school plays. Her career started out of more luck than anything else. While visiting New York City with her parents, a talent agent saw her and had her travel out to Los Angeles. Initially, like many up and coming actors, she appeared in bit commercial and television spots, but eventually became a main cast member for the television comedy The Bill Engvall Show (at the age of 17). She popped up in the occasional movie, but it was her role as Mystique in the film X-Men: First Class in 2011 that pushed her into stardom.
The following year, Jennifer Lawrence took the role of Katniss Everdeen, the lead of The Hunger Games. Since her performance in the series, she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for the film Silver Linings Playbook, where she plays a bipolar widow. She received additional praise for the film American Hustle. Most recently, she stared in the movie Red Sparrow and is set to appear in an upcoming Steven Spielberg film, as well as another X-Men movie.
Jennifer and Her Social Anxiety
Mrs. Lawrence has gone on record a number of times, discussing her social anxiety and when it affects her strongest. According to Women’s Health (2017), she sat down with an interviewer and went into detail about her anxiety, and how it reaches its peak when on an airplane. As someone who must travel to varying locations around the world for her work, airplane travel is a must. She said in the interview she’s not afraid of the airplane itself, but instead of her on the airplane. In several occasions, in mid-flight she started to have panic attacks where she yelled out to other passengers the plane was going to crash, and she even attempted to jump out of an Air France jet.
Jennifer’s anxiety didn’t just materialize in her adult years though. According to an interview with the Huffington Post (2013), anxiety is something she grew up with. According to the interview, Jennifer said, “My nickname was “Nitro” as nitroglycerin. I was hyperactive, curious about everything. When my mother told me about my childhood, she always told me there was like a light in me, a spark that inspired me constantly. When I entered the school, the light went out. We never knew what it was, a kind of social anxiety.” She went on in the interview to say, “Just on stage, my mother saw the change that was taking place in me. She saw my anxieties disappear. She found her daughter, the one who had this light and joy before school. I finally found a way, open the door to a universe that I understood, that was good for me and made me happy, because I felt capable, whereas before I felt worthless. This is why mom fought for me to be an actress.”
The Jennifer Lawrence anxiety story is similar to that of millions of people around the world. Jennifer found herself afraid to be around others and feared falling short in terms of schoolwork. She became closed off and her bubbly personality disappeared while in school because of this fear. It’s an issue she continues with to this date, where she has found (and demonstrated) different ways to combat this issue. As Mrs. Lawrence indicated in her interview with the Huffington Post, acting allowed her to break out of her shell. It freed her from her social anxiety. In a way, it forced her out of the shell. However, when promoting her movies and going out in public (something often required by Hollywood studios in order to increase exposure for the production), she has turned to other means to dull her anxiety, including alcohol. According to Vanity Fair (2018), Jennifer Lawrence showed up to Red Sparrow’s premier (her most recent movie) drunk in order to num her self-consciousness of everyone around the red carpet. She even consumed a considerable amount of alcohol on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Entertainment Weekly (2018) went on to highlight Jennifer Lawrence drinking wine throughout the three-hour Oscars.
Jennifer Lawrence and Social Anxiety (Battle, Diagnoses, and Treatment)
Jennifer Lawrence is just one of the many celebrities with anxiety. She has remained open about it throughout much of her professional career. In an interview with Madame Figaro (2013), a French entertainment magazine, she discussed her anxiety as a child, and how she started to see a therapist as an early teenager. During this time, right before going out to New York City and eventually Los Angeles, Jennifer said her anxiety started to reach all-time highs, yet she did not know what it was or what caused it. Acting and performing helped keep it at bay, but as Jennifer could not act 24 hours a day, seven days a week, she started seeing a therapist in order to help discover more about her anxiety issue and how to cope with it.
Now, Jennifer has found several ways to cope with her social anxiety. She has said one form of anxiety advice she gives others struggling with the condition is to just not care what other people think. The faster someone discovers it doesn’t matter what others around think, the easier it becomes to cope with anxiety. She has said she’s grown more and more confident with this tactic, and when there are smaller groups of people around not caring about the opinions or thoughts of others works others. However, there are times Jennifer does feel completely overwhelmed due to the sheer number of others around her, in which case she can still struggle with the issue. This is when she turns to one of the other ways to combat social anxiety, which she admits to not be the healthiest. It is the alcohol consumption before (and during) large gatherings of people. It’s not something she likes to do and does not recommend it for others (especially those who may already struggle with addiction or other coping mechanisms), but she has admitted that, over time, she hasn’t had the need to rely on it as frequently as she becomes stronger and more confident in her ability to stand up to her own social anxiety.
Social anxiety and bipolar disorders can affect anyone. Millions of people in the United States alone suffer from an assortment of mental conditions. The stigma behind discussing such conditions have long prevented people from bringing up their own personal issues, which with the right diagnosis and treatment can make coping with anxiety, depression and bipolar disorders easier. However, Jennifer Lawrence and other celebs with anxiety or other mental conditions who open up about their own struggles have helped break down the stigma barriers and made it that much easier to openly express a person’s own problems and what they’re going through. So while some of Jennifer’s coping mechanisms are not overtly desirable to replicate, her openness offers a refreshing take on the once unspoken topic of social anxiety.