11 Public Figures Who Will Make You Rethink What You Know About Anxiety Disorders

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Public figures in Hollywood are splashed across glossy pages as they take their kids to the store or go to the gym next to headlines like, "Stars! They’re Just Like Us!" -- and while these errands do make them relatable -- that's usually where the comparisons end.

When we look at public figures, we usually tend think of them as the picture of poised and confident. But even though we're exposed to what feels like every ounce of their lives through the smooth pages of a magazine, there are still private battles they must face -- and that includes addressing their emotional well-being when it becomes jeopardized.

No matter which way you look at it, there's a stigma that's attached to emotional and mental health issues -- particularly when it comes to anxiety disorders. And even though the condition affects nearly 40 million American adults, including those public figures who appear so cool under pressure, there still can be a barrier when it comes to understanding what it’s like to suffer from chronic fear and stress. In order to gain that understanding our culture needs -- and to realize that suffering from anxiety doesn't have to be debilitating -- below find 11 incredible public figures who will make you rethink what you know about anxiety and panic disorders.

Olivia Munn

olivia munn

The actress best known for her confident demeanor on HBO's "The Newsroom," has openly admitted that she has severe social anxiety. "If I were to walk into someone’s birthday party, I’d have a bad anxiety attack," she told People magazine in 2013. Munn's aversion to social situations also triggers trichotillomania, a condition related to nail-biting and skin-picking that causes sufferers to pull out their own hair -- in Munn's case she pulls out her eyelashes. In order to manage the condition, she says it's about overcoming the idea of what makes you so fearful. "The idea -- that’s what anxiety is," she told Access Hollywood in March. "It's interpreting what I think things are going to be [like] and it ends up never being as bad as I think it’s going to be."

John Mayer
We listen to his poetic lyrics during times of distress, but the pop singer also has private distresses of his own. Prone to anxiety, Mayer keeps anti-anxiety medication on hand in case of a panic attack, Everyday Health reported.

Dan Harris
The "Nightline" and "Good Morning America" anchor is the picture of relaxed in his news chair, but not after an on-air panic attack in 2004 forced him to face his growing burnout and a newly-developed problem with drugs like ecstasy and cocaine. "I was overtaken by a massive, irresistible blast of fear," Harris recently wrote of his attack in an ABC News blog. “It felt like the world was ending. My heart was thumping. I was gasping for air. I had pretty much lost the ability to speak. And all of it was compounded by the knowledge that my freak-out was being broadcast live on national television."

After a drastic life change and discovering meditation, Harris penned the book 10 Percent Happier, which delves into how the practice can make a significant impact on your life. Since discovering mindfulness, Harris says he can get a much better handle on high-stress situations. "Meditation is a tool for taming the voice in your head. You know the voice I'm talking about. It's what has us constantly ruminating on the past or projecting into the future," he wrote. "To be clear, meditation won't magically solve all of your problems ... but meditation is often effective kryptonite against the kind of epic mindlessness that produced my televised panic attack."

Barbra Streisand

barbra streisand

When you’re one of the world's biggest Broadway powerhouses, it's easy to get caught up in the pressure of performing. Streisand is no exception and has long spoken out about her tendency to experience intense stage fright and anxiety before stepping into the spotlight. She told Oprah Winfrey in 2006 that she even takes anxiety medication before going onstage.

John Steinbeck
He penned some of the most notable novels of his time, including The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden, but during his prominent lifetime, Steinbeck was also challenged with emotional health problems. The author suffered from anxiety and manic depression, and sought treatment from psychologist Gertrudis Brenner in order to deal with the disorder.

Kim Basinger
The Oscar-winning actress known for her roles in "L.A. Confidential" and "8 Mile" struggled with anxiety throughout the course of career and relied on medication to help her manage her panic disorder. She told People magazine in 2013 that after battling agoraphobia, she was ready to take charge of her fears and her emotional health. "Now I wake up and enjoy life," she said. "I didn’t want to live on drugs. I wanted to face everything I was afraid of."

Khalil Greene
The pressure to perform doesn't just mount among artists and performers, but on sports fields as well. As an infielder for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2009, Greene went on the disabled list after being diagnosed with social anxiety disorder. "[Baseball] is a source of a lot of joy, but it's also a source of a lot of frustration and sadness and fear," Greene told USA Today shortly after he was diagnosed. "It's difficult to deal with, because it is something I really enjoy doing, but it has become at times like a love-hate relationship."

When that relationship caused chronic stress, Greene decided to take a step back. "The problem is when you're in a high-stress profession like that where the challenges are so great, moderate anxiety can sometimes erupt into an anxiety disorder," clinical psychologist Charles F. Brady told the MLB. And Greene isn't the only one -- other baseball players like Aubrey Huff, Dontrelle Willis and Joey Votto all have admitted to dealing with anxiety disorders.

Emma Stone

emma stone

The quirky "Spiderman" star told Vogue magazine that she used to suffer from severe panic attacks as a child. "I was just kind of immobilized by it," she explained. "I didn't want to go to my friends' houses or hang out with anybody, and nobody really understood." Stone took control of the disorder by going to therapy and discovering her place in theater -- and although she still experiences anxiety, she knows how to better manage it by channeling her energy into work and fun activities.

Whoopi Goldberg
The funny actress and co-host of "The View" experiences anxiety through a specific fear of flying. According to Everyday Health, Goldberg looked into several treatment options for her phobia and opted for exposure therapy, where she slowly addressed her fear through a sponsored airplane course. She discussed her experience on "The View" after completing the course.

Abraham Lincoln
Praised as one of the most forward-thinking political figures of all time, Abraham Lincoln ranks as one of the most well-known leaders in history. However, along with a tumultuous country, Lincoln struggled with his mental health, including severe anxiety and depression. In a 2005 essay published in The Atlantic, writer Joshua Wolf Shenk explained how the president’s condition influenced his leadership, arguing that just because someone suffers from a mental health disorder, doesn’t mean you're unfit to make an impact:

Lincoln did suffer from what we now call depression, as modern clinicians, using the standard diagnostic criteria, uniformly agree. But this diagnosis is only the beginning of a story about how Lincoln wrestled with mental demons, and where it led him. Diagnosis, after all, seeks to assess a patient at just a moment in time, with the aim of treatment. But Lincoln's melancholy is part of a whole life story; exploring it can help us see that life more clearly, and discern its lessons. In a sense, what needs "treatment" is our own narrow ideas -- of depression as an exclusively medical ailment that must be, and will be, squashed; of therapy as a thing dispensed only by professionals and measured only by a reduction of pain; and finally, of mental trials as a flaw in character and a disqualification for leadership.

Charles Schulz

charles schulz

With quotes like "Happiness is a warm puppy," and lovable characters like Snoopy and Charlie, Schulz's creative mind brought smiles to millions. What most didn't know, however, is that the "Peanuts" creator also suffered from anxiety. "I have this awful feeling of impending doom," Schulz said in a 60 Minutes interview. "I wake up to a funeral-like atmosphere."

Despite his condition, Schulz's second wife Jean said that he still had a zest for life. "Part of what puzzles people about [Schulz] was that he talked about the actual physical sensation that he had from being anxious, the 'sense of dread' when he got up in the morning," she told The New York Times. "But he had a Buddhist acceptance of life and its ups and downs. He functioned perfectly well."

Correction: An earlier version of this story conflated the compulsive grooming disorders of nail-biting and hair-pulling.

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