January 18, 2012

Famously Anxious and Sleepless

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Reviewed by: 
Joseph V. Madia, MD By:

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Mental health advice is what celebrities need

(dailyRx News) While watching celebrities play their roles in your favorite movies or TV series, it’s difficult to remember they’re real people with emotions and feelings just like your own. 

Several well-known actors and performers recently opened their inner-lives up to the public regarding their struggles with anxiety disorders: Jessica Alba, John Mayer, and Charlize Theron, to name just a few.

Anxiety disorders affect tens of millions of people each and every year, and becoming famous does not grant any sort of immunity.

"If your emotions are causing issues, contact a therapist."

Viewers of MTV’s hit series The Jersey Shore may have already realized this while watching the fifth season’s premiere. Vinny Guadagnino, original castmate, left the show after suffering from anxiety attacks during filming.

Guadagnino has worked with The Jed Foundation, a non-profit focused on helping teens and young adults overcome emotional issues. During the campaign, Vinny explained his big move, “It’s a terrible environment for me to be in when I’m anxious because there’s drinking involved, there’s fighting involved, a lack of sleep, a lack of privacy.”

These environmental triggers are not unique to Guadagnino. Sleep deprivation and alcohol consumption have been long linked to issues regarding mental health.

A study in the journal Sleep, Nicholas Glozier, Ph.D., and a team of investigators recruited 2,937 individuals to provide self-reported weekday and weekend sleep schedules.  A weighted average determined measures of average sleep per night.

 Those reporting unreasonable and/or impossible sleep schedules were excluded.  Investigators used the Kessler 10, a ten question self-reported questionnaire used to determine psychological distress levels.  

Dr. Glozier reports, “Over half of those reporting less than six hours of sleep per night had high levels of current psychological distress, compared to about one quarter of those sleeping the recommended level in young adults of 8-9 h per night.”

Approximately 18 percent of respondents slept less than seven hours per night, and 30 percent slept between 7 and 8 hours.  A meta-analysis linked sleep duration with a slew of baseline characteristics, including older age, employment, self-harm, substance abuse, and binge drinking.

Alcohol is a similar stressor. According to the National Institute of Health, animal studies found disruptions between the brain and the pituitary gland after alcohol consumption.

The sex hormone regulator, disruptions in the pituitary gland cause irregular hormone levels and can significantly change the temperament of an individual, contributing to emotional unbalance.

These are not the only environmental factors causing issues within celebrities. Jessica Alba, Charlize Theron, and Howie Mandel all suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder, while Johnny Depp, Whoopi Goldberg, David Beckham, and Paula Deen face their anxieties in the form of phobias.

Last, but certainly not least, John Mayer and Heather Locklear share their battles with anxiety—Locklear battling comorbid depression as well. Both individuals receive treatment for their issues; Heather checked into a mental health facility in 2008 while Mayer admits keeping his anti-anxiety medication within reaching distance at all times.

The research was published by Everydayhealth during January.

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Reviewed by: 
Joseph V. Madia, MD
Review Date: 
January 17, 2012

Last Updated:
January 18, 2012