Celebrities with social anxiety include those who have been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder (SAD) such as Donny Osmond, Barbra Streisand and Ricky Williams, and others who have dealt with social anxiety issues such as Susie O’Neill and Kim Basinger. Read more about celebrities with social anxiety and how they have learned to cope.
1. Donny Osmond
At the tender age of 6, Donny Osmond recalls the beginnings of what would later develop into a full-blown case of SAD. While performing in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” Osmond’s stage fright became overwhelming. No longer able to cope, he sought help and received both medication and therapy as part of a treatment program. Osmond has spoken openly about his experiences in his autobiography and in interviews.
2. Barbra Streisand
During a concert in New York’s Central Park, Barbra Streisand forgot the lyrics to a song. Terrified of having it happen again, she did not perform publicly (with the exception of charity events) for nearly another 30 years. Streisand eventually returned to performing and has since reported using medication to manage her symptoms of social anxiety; despite this, she is still one of the most successful singers of all time.
3. Ricky Williams
Professional football player Ricky Williams has battled a crippling case of social anxiety disorder throughout his career in the NFL. Often judged as strange and aloof, Williams was known for leaving his helmet on during interviews and avoiding fans. On the suggestion of a friend, he entered therapy and began taking the anti-anxiety medication paxil (paroxetine). Williams has shared his story openly with the hope of helping others with SAD.
4. Zack Greinke
Zack Greinke took a leave of absence from his position as pitcher with the Kansas City Royals in 2006 to deal with SAD. A combination of treatment from a sports psychologist and anti-depressant medication allowed Greinke to return 7 months later. Greinke has since performed exceptionally well, winning the Cy Young Award in 2009, and appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
5. Dontrelle Willis
Dontrelle Willis is a professional baseball player who was placed on the disabled list in 2009 due to SAD. Willis’ brief departure from his position of pitcher for the Detroit Tigers was met with skepticism by some; his diagnosis was based on a blood test and Willis denied having any feelings of anxiety.
6. Khalil Greene
Khalil Greene, shortstop for the St. Louis Cardinals, was placed on the disabled list for SAD in 2009 and 2010. Greene was known for having a long-standing pattern of emotional difficulties and had already been in treatment for anxiety issues.
7. Susie O’Neill
Olympic gold medalist swimmer Susie O’Neill spoke publicly about her problems with social anxiety both in her book “Choose to win: Achieving your goals, fulfilling your dreams”, and in an interview with the Australian Women’s Weekly. O’Neill’s fears included standing on the podium after a win, and being chosen to participate in team events.
8. Kim Basinger
Actress Kim Basinger was so shy and withdrawn as a child that her parents had her tested for autism and other disorders. Basinger has since managed to develop a successful Hollywood career despite battling panic disorder, agoraphobia, and social anxiety. The HBO film “Panic: A film about coping” features commentary from Basinger about her struggles with anxiety.
9. Sir Laurence Olivier
Actor Sir Laurence Olivier battled a severe case of stage fright during the last 10 years of his stage career, despite appearing in over 120 stage productions. His primary fear was of forgetting his lines. He coped with this fear by using avoidance strategies to shield himself from the audience and his fellow actors.