Selena Gomez Opens Up About How Therapy Changed Her Life

Medically Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD
3 min read

At just 24 years old, Selena Gomez has spent a lot of time in the spotlight. She’s one of the world’s biggest pop stars and the most popular person on Instagram, with 113 million followers. But as she reveals in the April issue of Vogue, fame hasn’t been so easy on her health.  

In the interview, Gomez opens up about checking into a psychiatric facility last summer for feelings of depression and anxiety that emerged while she was on tour, which she calls a “lonely” experience. “My self-esteem was shot,” she says. “I was depressed, anxious. I started to have panic attacks right before getting on stage, or right after leaving the stage.” 

The singer says she spent 90 days in the treatment center in Tennessee, where she took part in individual therapy, group therapy, and equine therapy, which uses horses to help treat mental health conditions.

Animals can be very therapeutic since they show an unconditional positive regard, says Linda Esposito, a therapist and licensed clinical social worker. “Group therapy can also be a helpful tool to recognize you’re not alone and hear about others’ experiences, in addition to one-on-one therapy.” While a 3-month stay in a residential program isn’t doable for most people, it’s important to seek help from a therapist if you’re dealing with burnout, depression, or anxiety, she says. Ask a trusted friend or family member for a recommendation, or do research online to find a therapist who’s right for you. 

This is not the first time Gomez has been to rehab. In January 2014, she spent time at a treatment center after being diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disease that can cause skin rash, achy or swollen joints, fatigue, hair loss, and other symptoms. She has since gotten treatment for lupus and is now in remission from the disease.

Now, Gomez still sees a psychologist 5 days per week. She credits dialectical behavior therapy for completely changing her life. This type of therapy is often used to treat complex or long-term mental health conditions and typically involves individual sessions, group therapy, and phone coaching. It focuses on mindfulness and acceptance, while working with your therapist to change negative behaviors. 

Another way Gomez is taking control of her mental health: staying off social media. Instagram had become “so consuming to me,” she tells Vogue. “It’s what I woke up to and went to sleep to. I was an addict, and it felt like I was seeing things I didn’t want to see.” As a result, she’s now lying low on Instagram, even deleting the app and letting her assistant post for her. 

Seeing the perfect pictures posted to social media can be especially detrimental to people prone to anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem, Esposito says. Feeling similarly attached to your smartphone? It’s not a bad idea to take a break and go cold turkey, the way Gomez did, Esposito says.   

Gomez also supports more people opening up about mental health, telling Vogue, “I wish more people would talk about therapy.”