Sophie Turner just got real about her depression. The 23-year-old Game of Thrones star opened up to Dr. Phil McGraw about her long-term mental health struggles on McGraw’s podcast, Phil in the Blanks. “I’ve suffered with depression for about five or six years now,” the star said. “The biggest challenge for me: Getting out of bed and getting out of the house — and like, learning to love yourself.”
Turner is known for her role as Sansa Stark on HBO’s GoT since its debut in 2011, and she said her depression ramped up when she’d been on the show for about four years. She was about 17. "I think it was a combination of social media on the rise at that time, and also my friends were going to university, and I wasn't going to university,” she said. “I was working, but I was still living at my parents' house, so I felt very alone."
“Did social media cause you to get depressed?” McGraw asked her, point blank. “I think it contributed,” Turner replied. “I wouldn’t say it was the main reason. I think it’s some sort of chemical imbalance. But I think it definitely was a bit of a catalyst.”
Turner said her depression was fuelled by trolls on social media who knocked her appearance and acting skills, USA Today reported. “I used to get a lot of comments about my skin and my weight and how I wasn't a good actress,” Turner told McGraw. I would just believe it. She said that worrying about her appearance impacted the way she did her job and how she interacted with the world.
In 2017, about 17.3 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode, according to The National Institute of Mental Health. Depression can cause fatigue, a low or hopeless mood, and even thoughts of suicide. Severe symptoms impact how you feel, think, and handle daily activities such as sleeping, eating, and working, according to NIMH. Turner said she experienced some of these symptoms, telling McGraw: "I had no motivation to do anything or go out. Even with my best friends; I wouldn't want to see them; I wouldn't want to go out and eat with them."
But Turner told McGraw that she’s in a better place now, thanks to a recipe of therapy, medication, self-love, and positive affirmation from her fiancé Joe Jonas.
"I'm now with someone that makes me realize that I do have some redeeming qualities, I suppose," she told McGraw. "When someone tells you they love you every day, it makes you really think about why that is, and I think it makes you love yourself a bit more."
She has also started tuning out when it comes to social media. McGraw tried to reassure Turner during the interview: “They don’t know you, and they wouldn’t say that to you in an elevator,” McGraw said. “They’re keyboard bullies.”
Turner said she occasionally breaks her social media rule, though. On instance was when she spoke out about mental health issues this January, after a British journalist retweeted and seemed to agree with the sentiment that celebrities were trying to “make mental health problem ‘fashionable.’”
“Or maybe they have a platform to speak out about it and help get rid of the stigma of mental illness which affects 1 in 4 people in UK per year,” Turner tweeted at the time.
Now, she’s using her platform to do just that. She’s healing herself, too.“I love myself,” she told McGraw.
He replied: “You said that like you meant it.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness, please contact Crisis Services Canada at 1-833-456-4566. All calls will be answered in confidence.