Selena Gomez on Managing Her Depression During Shelter-in-Place: "I Couldn't Deal With It"

As part of Rare Beauty's Rare Impact Fund, which seeks to raise $100 million for mental health services for underserved communities over the next 10 years, Selena Gomez sat down for a virtual discussion with Vivek Murthy, MD, physician and former surgeon general under the Obama Administration. During the interview, Dr. Vivek addressed the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on people's mental health, and Selena opened up about her personal experiences with depression as a result of the shelter-in-place orders.

"My job is a lot of travel, connecting with people, making people happy and that makes me happy, so it has been a struggle," Gomez said, explaining that the huge shift in her extroverted lifestyle forced her to reflect on her relationships and her emotions. "In the beginning I couldn't deal with it that well. I kind of went into a bit of a depression. Then I started going into a place where I was really writing and being active. Then, I guess it just forced me to have that time [to process everything]."

On the Effects of Social Media on Mental Health

"Our worth as human beings comes from our ability to give and to receive love, compassion, and kindness. That is our source of worth."

While many people have turned to social media as a way to connect with those outside of their immediate social circles over the last several months, Selena has made a point of staying off social media for the last two years to avoid the effects of negative comments on her mental health. According to Dr. Murthy, Selena's decision to limit her online presence might be one worth imitating. "Because, I think, when you're constantly receiving messages that tell you you're not enough — that you're not good looking enough, you're not smart enough, you're not thin enough, popular enough, you're not rich enough — then you start to absorb that and think that that's real," Dr. Murthy said.

Even when we know the posts we see on our dashboard are curated and not completely reflective of the lives of those we follow, it's nearly impossible not to compare our own lives to what we see on social media, Dr. Murthy said. "And we find that, when we're talking to others, we're constantly thinking about how they're perceiving us," he said. "We're modulating our speech, what we choose to talk about, what we share based on what we think they would appreciate and what they want, as opposed to expressing ourselves in our true authentic form. And that ultimately hurts our connection with one another."

On the Effects of Chronic Loneliness on Mental Health

Selena and Dr. Murthy also discussed the negative effects of chronic loneliness on self-worth for people who are sheltering in place and may not be able to spend time with their loved ones. "Our worth as human beings comes from our ability to give and to receive love, compassion, and kindness," Dr. Murthy said. He then described three types of loneliness that people might have experienced over the last several months:

  1. Intimate loneliness: when we miss connections with people who knows us deeply and intimately. This can be a best friend, a romantic partner, or a close family member.
  2. Relational loneliness: when we miss casual friendships with people you would have over for dinner or see regularly.
  3. Collective loneliness: when we miss having a community with which we have a shared identity, including volunteer groups, faith-based groups, work groups, etc.

By being emotionally present when it comes to these forms of loneliness in ourselves and those around us, Dr. Murthy said we can help ourselves and those we care about to feel more loved. "A little bit of high-quality social interaction can go a long way . . . Put people first," he said.

For Gomez, the last few months of shelter in place have been a time of personal reflection, and despite her own experiences with loneliness, she continues to see growth in herself mentally and emotionally. "I would say right now I'm fully coming out again," Gomez said. "I just think I had to handle it the way I needed to handle it and I got through it with the right people and doing the right things and doing the right steps to not make me go crazy," she said. "It took me years to work on myself for that."