Written by Michael Oshust

written by Michael Oshust

Why is depression/anxiety/drug use so prevalent among musicians, especially the ones in the spotlights? 

When we look at musicians like Avicii, Chester Bennington, Chris Cornell, Michael Hutchence, Brad Delp, Keith Emerson and most recently, Keith Flint, all of them have suffered mental illnesses. Unfortunately for these artists, they all took their own lives when they felt there was no other option.

In recent years, more and more artists in the music industry have spoken out about the need to de-stigmatize mental health and provide psychological support when artists need it most. Artists have opened up about their battles with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other mental illnesses.


In the United Kingdom, 2200 musicians, were part of a study. It showed that 71% of those that responded believed they had suffered from panic attacks and high levels of anxiety, while 69 percent reported they had suffered from depression. The musicians indicated fears from the psychological impact of not meeting record deal expectations. They also feared criticism on social media. Other factors included merely being unable to separate oneself from one’s work, potential triggers for anxiety, depression and other mental health issues only stack up over time. The study found that over 60-percent of musicians have suffered from depression or other psychological issues, while 71-percent of those asked say that touring is a significant factor in their mental health issues.

One anonymous musician stated that he feels guilty about his issue because he chose to be a musician:

“I feel guilty asking for help with something I should be able to deal with given the issues in question are part and parcel of the career path I’ve chosen.”

Another musician stated:
“Touring can be destructive on a musician; it was destructive on me, that’s for sure. I’d come home from the tour, and I’m back to feeding the cat. My wife at the time – I don’t have a wife now – worked 12-hour shifts, so I was cooking the dinner all that sort of shit. There was a lot of tension because I’m thinking to myself, ‘I don’t deserve this, I’m a big star,’ and that was one of the contributing factors in ending my marriage. This fucking career, striving towards something that never existed and didn’t exist.”

Here are artists that have opened up about their illness and talk openly about it.

Adele mentioned during an interview in 2016 that although she has never considered suicide, she has had “lots” of therapy to help her deal with depression. “I have a very dark side. I’m very available to depression. I can slip in and out of it quite easily,” Adele admitted. “It started when my granddad died when I was about 10.

Demi Levato has been outspoken about her mental health. “The more you talk about mental illness, the less of a taboo it becomes,” Levato said in November 2016. She also stated “As a pop star, I can say, ‘Hey, I’ve got bipolar disorder — it’s nothing that anyone can be ashamed of.’ ” At a 2011 concert, Lovato reached out to her fans “If there’s anybody out there tonight that doesn’t feel beautiful enough or worthy enough, you’re wrong, because you guys are all so incredible,” she said. “If you’re dealing with any of the issues I’ve been through, don’t be afraid to speak up, because someone will be there for you.”

Lady Gaga admitted she has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to being raped when she was 19. She said "I have a mental illness and I struggle with that mental illness every day,” to the audience on the Today show in December 2016. "My trauma in my own life has helped me to understand the trauma of others,” Gaga said she is lucky to have to a secure support network.

In 2016 U2’s bassist Adam Clayton opened up about his struggle with mental health issues. "I relied too much on alcohol and other things to get me through. I pretty much had a eureka moment. I was fed up of the way I felt constantly. In my particular case, it was difficult for me not to go, 'You've got a great life, what's wrong with you.' Eventually, I got fed up with feeling fed up,” he explained.

In September 2016, Bruce Springsteen revealed that a battle with depression left him feeling “crushed.” The rocker compared his bouts of mental illness to “a freight train bearing down” on him.

At the 2016 American Music Awards, Selena Gomez told the audience she was “absolutely broken” when she announced that she was taking a break to deal with anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. “I kept it all together enough so I would never let you down, but I kept it too much together to where I let myself down,” she told fans. “If you are broken, you do not have to stay broken.”

Australian alt-pop singer Sia, who typically appears onstage with her face hidden behind elaborate wigs, masks or face paint, has revealed that she suffers from bipolar II disorder. She also has been forthcoming about her depression and addiction, as well as mental illness in her family.

Miley Cyrus, another mega pop star, has spoken about her bouts of deep depression, saying that there is nothing worse than having all eyes on you and having to be “fake happy.”

Christina Aguilera might have the public persona of a massive pop diva, but the star has also talked openly about her battle with depression. "It's something that is always right below the surface,"  Christina also said she wasn't alone "I'm not the only person that's been through growing up in a place of chaos or sadness or yelling and fighting and seeing horrific things at a young age."

Glass Tiger's Michael Hanson aiming to raise awareness for mental health with new doc 


Michael Hanson - The Girl That Love Forgot

Proceeds from "The Girl That Love Forgot" will benefit Ontario Shores Foundation for Mental Health and

The Orillia Soldiers' Memorial Hospital.

We need more support for people that are suffering. No one should feel alone, or abandoned.

This copyright statement applies to all photography & images found on Music Speaks Louder. 

The photographs contained on Music Speaks Louder are the property of Music Speaks Louder unless otherwise noted and are protected by Canadian and International copyright laws.

© Music Speaks Louder.