Kellie Pickler talks about her year-long battle with depression

American Idol contestant and country star Kellie Pickler is known for her bubbly, upbeat attitude, but she recently revealed that she’s been dealing with depression brought on by family and relationship troubles over the last year. It was pretty clear during her live performance on “Live with Regis and Kelly” earlier this year, during which she broke down in tears while singing, that Kellie was going through something. Kellie sought professional help and was prescribed some anti-depressants, but she says the drugs had side effects that made her “crazy.” In the end, she reached out to friends about her situation for support and met a new love interest along the way.

Last year, Kellie Pickler battled depression and suffered severe reactions to anti-depressant pills after struggling with family problems and an emotional breakup from her boyfriend, hockey player Jordin Tootoo, the country star reveals in the new issue of PEOPLE, on sale Friday.

“Everything in my professional life seemed great,” says the former American Idol contestant, 22. “But in my personal life, I was just crumbling.”

Anti-depressants made her “crazy,” she says, and the side effects forced her to quit the pills.

At the same time, she watched her father – a convicted felon who had been released from prison soon after her Idol stint – spiral downward again and return to jail, while her mother, who abandoned her at age 2, unexpectedly reemerged.

“I was an emotional wreck,” she says.

Her friendships with singers Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood, along with a new love – Nashville songwriter Kyle Jacobs – and writing songs for her new album (her self-titled sophomore effort was released Sept. 30) helped her find balance again.

“He makes me feel so good about being me,” she says of Jacobs.


It sounds like Kellie has been having a rough time of it, and she deserves credit for seeking help for her problem. Unfortunately, it sounds like the drugs weren’t the answer for her. I was on anti-depressants briefly a few years ago while going through a divorce, and they really helped me. But I know other people who have reacted badly to them- feeling more depressed and even suicidal. I do think that talking to your trusted friends about your depression does help – but throwing yourself into a new relationship may not be the best idea. Either way, it does seem like Kellie is feeling better about herself and that’s a good thing.

Kelly Pickler is shown posing with a fan outside ‘Live with Regis and Kelly’ on 10/1/08. Credit: Ray Filmano / WENN

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14 Responses to “Kellie Pickler talks about her year-long battle with depression”

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  1. Baholicious says:

    GPs can be way too quick to dole out the drugs and their knowledge of psychotropic medications is at best, minimal.

    That being said, antidepressants do help some people and that’s wonderful. They didn’t help me (I tried four) because I am bipolar 1 rapid-cycling and was misdiagnosed for years. After over a year of trying different medications for bipolar and having every side-effect listed (I’m not kidding) I’m giving up everything except my lithium and supplementing that with fish oil. Results have been positive for many people but no companies will fund research because there’s no money in it for big Pharma. Same thing with St. John’s Wort.

    There’s no blueprint for the brain, sadly, so these meds are just so much hit and miss; trial and error, or success. Everybody is different.

    Depression in any form is horrible to go through but I wouldn’t wish a mood disorder on my worst enemy.

  2. Julia says:

    Fortunately now there are different kinds of anti-depressants (SSRI, SSNRI, etc) and anti-anxiety medication. Often the problem people have is that it can take a long time to find the right drug and dosage. I think people tend to think they are all the same and if they get side effects, they assume that “drugs aren’t for them”, when the problem is the wrong one and/or the wrong dose.

    Her depression sounds situational as opposed to completely biochemical. Clinical depression is hereditary and persists through situational difficulties. While I can certainly understand talking things out has benefits, and I’m glad it worked out for her, it is naive to think that talk therapy alone is sufficient to treat “real” depression. It doesn’t sound like she’s been battling depression for her whole life, so this was likely more situational than chemical.

  3. Baholicious says:

    @Julia: I agree absolutely re: situational vs. clinical (biochemical) depression. Talk therapy for the latter is at best counter-productive to downright dangerous until the mood has been stabilized for a period of time.

    Talk therapy is something one with biochemical depression might pursue down the road but never in a period of crisis. The psyche is just too vulnerable then.

  4. Julia says:

    Well I have struggled with depression since around middle-school, though I wasn’t actually in therapy or on medication until high school. A good support system is good for everyone, and medication is more effective when combined with therapy, mostly because there are other ways to combat depression (cognitive therapy to change negative self-talk, “all-or-nothing thinking”, etc). It’s not related to the CB article, but my heart goes out to you for being a rapid cycler. Even regular depression cycles, and I tended to be a rapid-cycler, too, though I didn’t really have manic periods (more like periods of normalcy in between periods of depression). It’s rough.

    The good news is that having issues like these tends to encourage learning about them. You sound like you’ve really learned a lot from your experiences and that’s definitely a silver lining. *hugs* :)

  5. Rosanna says:

    Hey to keep up with all this outing… I have bipolar 1 too. I do not rapid-cycle (thank God) but almost all my episodes are mixed. Oddly enough antidepressants have always done me a LOT of good… I never went manic while on them (I did become manic “by myself” so to speak) and ADs have helped me a lot as far as panic is concerned. Nowadays I don’t need ADs because I have no more panic (WOW!) but I’m on a stabilizer (carbamazepine) and atomoxetine for adult ADHD. Thanks to these medications I’m back in school, working, and yadda yadda. In short, having a life, and a life I like as opposed to either disability or commiseration… and yes I also take CBT which does a lot of good too to change one’s patterns (the ones that leads you to get re-triggered). Best wishes to all of you gals!!!!

  6. actingrc says:

    Baho – does fish oil do good things for you? i’m cyclothymic, been on lithium for almost 6 years, but i feel like i’m playing whak-a-mole sometimes – it’s not super effective on the depression side any more…

  7. Baholicious says:

    I’m trying to reply but nothing’s posting. Might be too long so I’ll trying paring it down. BRB…

  8. Jessica says:

    Boo hoo!! Another celebrity with depression.. I will show you real depression, having a mortgage, 2 small kids, a husband, bills and a crappy job!! If something doesnt go a person’s way in the business, its automatically declared depression, drugs given and let the pats on the back begin!!
    Get a life!!

  9. jess says:

    i’m bipolar too. after a few depression triggered emergency room visits and being diagnosed clinically depressed (my first psychologist asked me why it happened and i said i dont knoww, i was really really depressed but now i feel fine like it was a bad dream, and somehow she didnt pick up bipolar!?!) my new dr put me on Lamictal, and i swear my life is completely different now. i’ve seen it work miracles for other people too.

  10. MSat says:

    Jessica, did you even read the article? Kellie Pickler hasn’t had an easy life. Her father was in and out of jail and her mother abandoned her when she was a baby. She was mostly raised by her grandparents. More recently, her dad is back in jail and her mother conveniently reappeared and wanted to be a part of her life after she became famous.

  11. mel says:

    I like CP and wish her the best. I hate to see her suffer from the lack of support she receives from her parents. The Momma reappears and sounds like she just wants to benefit from her fame…how could she abandoned a innocent-loveabale child like Kellie…so sad.

  12. mel says:

    one more note…I was married to an athlete so I understand why she wouldnt have received the proper support she needed to get through her depression. She’s better off without him. I saw a picture of current beau and he looks more mature and understanding and atleast they have their music in common.

  13. actingrc says:

    jessica – i’ve said it before and i’ll say it again here. Hardlife does not equal depression, depression does not means a hard life. while some cases of depression are triggered by hardship (and tend not to recur unless the problems do) others happen for no apparent reason. it’s your brain that’s gone haywire, not your life. so cut her a little slack, and other celebrities too – artsy types have historically had much much higher rates of mental illness.

  14. The prices of fish oil capsules has risen significantly. I am giving my son 2 capsules a day to help him with memory. Does anybody know where I an find an cheap solution? By the way, it is great. His grade went up 2 grades after consuming fish oil capsules.