The beautiful Academy Award-winning actress, globe-trotting U.N. Goodwill Ambassador and mother of six may seem to have her act completely together, but throughout her teens and early 20s, Angelina Jolie suffered bouts of depression. After the death of her mother in 2007, she began sliding into another depression and couldn’t stop dwelling on negative thoughts. When asked to star in the stunt-packed thriller Wanted, she jumped at the chance. “My mother had just passed away, and I wanted to do something physical to get it out of my head for a while,” Contact Music quotes her as saying in July 2008. “I felt I was going into a very dark place, and I wasn’t capable of getting up in the morning, so I signed up for something that would force me to be active.”
It was a good decision, says Carol Landau, Ph.D., iVillage wellness expert and a clinical professor of psychiatry and medicine at Brown University’s Alpert Medical School in Providence, R.I. “The stress and grief that come with the death of a loved one can easily turn into depression, and it can be really hard to break the pattern of ruminating about the loss. Distracting activities, especially physical activity, can be helpful in breaking that cycle,” Landau says.