Taraji P. Henson talks battling 'ugly' depression & anxiety with therapy & how 'Empire' changed her life

Taraji P. Henson is opening up about fighting depression and how fame has affected her happiness.

The Empire star founded the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, which aims to fight the stigma surrounding mental health among African-Americans, in honor of her late father in 2018.

Her work with the organization has recently seen her honored as one of Variety’s Power of Women nominees, however in a new interview with the outlet she revealed why the cause is so close to her heart.

“I suffer from depression,” Henson said. “My anxiety is kicking up even more every day, and I’ve never really dealt with anxiety like that. It’s something new.”

Henson then detailed how she deals with her anxiety and depression, noting how she feels it’s vital to talk to a professional, not just loved ones, about such struggles.

“I have a therapist that I speak to. That’s the only way I can get through it,” she shared. “You can talk to your friends, but you need a professional who can give you exercises. So that when you’re on the ledge, you have things to say to yourself that will get you off that ledge and past your weakest moments.”

“It’s a professional -- someone who studies the human mind, and someone who has no stakes involved,” she continued. “Their job is to make sure you’re mentally sound, whatever that is and telling you the truth, which might hurt. Sometimes your friends don’t want to hurt your feelings. If I’m going to change for the better, I need honesty, and sometimes your friends and family don’t have it in them to be brutally honest.”

The 48-year-old actress admitted she went through several therapists before finding one she connected with. Describing the process of visiting different professionals as a “craft,” she said it was necessary to find “the right one,” in order to feel completely safe while “dealing with this ugly stuff.”

She now attends regular sessions and has dialed down her time on social media.

“Even if life is good for you, you can still get on there and become depressed because people are filtering pictures and living these false lives, and it makes you second guess yourself -- not intentionally, it just does," she said. "It makes you compare yourself.”

“If you just stay in your lane and mind your business … that’s why I put that away,” she added. “It was affecting my mood. I’d wake up in a good mood and I’d see something on there. I can control that -- just don’t look at it! Because that thing can depress you. It can knock you off your game.”

Asked whether a lack of privacy due to her fame had helped lead to depression and anxiety," Henson admitted it “wears on me,” since she feels she needs to be conscious of every move and every word that comes out of her mouth.

Her fame has only heightened due to the success of Empire, in which she plays Cookie Lyon.

“There was just something about Cookie that propelled me to superstardom,” she said. “It just took me from one level to the next. But look, you have to take the good with the bad. This is what I wanted. This is what I worked my ass off for my entire career. I’m not complaining, but things are just different now. I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Henson also addressed the controversy surrounding her Empire costar, Jussie Smollett, who was recently charged with allegedly filing a false police report in which he claimed he was the victim of a hate crime.

"We’ll never be the same," she said during the interview, which was conducted before all charges against Smollett were dropped. "No one will ever be the same. Forever changed. And it’s sad."

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Taraji P. Henson out and about
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Taraji P. Henson out and about
NEWARK, NJ - AUGUST 05: Actress Taraji P. Henson attends Black Girls Rock! 2017 at New Jersey Performing Arts Center on August 5, 2017 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)
NEWARK, NJ - AUGUST 05: Actress Taraji P. Henson performs onstage during Black Girls Rock! 2017 at New Jersey Performing Arts Center on August 5, 2017 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)
NEWARK, NJ - AUGUST 05: Taraji P. Henson poses backstage at Black Girls Rock! 2017 at NJPAC on August 5, 2017 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for BET)
NEWARK, NJ - AUGUST 05: Taraji P. Henson is seen backstage during Black Girls Rock! 2017 at NJPAC on August 5, 2017 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for BET)
CHICAGO, IL - JULY 23: Actress Taraji P. Henson sits courtside during a BIG3 Basketball game on July 23, 2017, at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Daniel Bartel/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Taraji P. Henson on Season Four of EMPIRE premiering Wednesday, Sept. 27 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Pictured Clockwise L-R: Terrence Howard, Jussie Smollett, Bryshere Gray, Trai Byers and Taraji P. Henson on Season Four of EMPIRE premiering Wednesday, Sept. 27 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 07: Taraji P. Henson attends the 2017 MTV Movie and TV Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on May 7, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 15: Actress Taraji P. Henson of the show 'Empire' attends the FOX Upfront on May 15, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/WireImage)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0641 -- Pictured: Actress Taraji P. Henson plays the 'Drinko' sketch on March 17, 2017 -- (Photo by: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Taraji P. Henson in the 'Toil and Trouble, Part. 2' season finale episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, May 17 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Taraji P. Henson in the 'Toil & Trouble, Pt. 1' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, May 17 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 26: Taraji P. Henson arrives at the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 26: Actor Taraji P. Henson attends the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 26: (L-R) Actor Janelle Monae, NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson and actors Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer pose backstage during the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)
SANTA MONICA, CA - FEBRUARY 25: Taraji P. Henson attends the 2017 Film Independent Spirit Awards on February 25, 2017 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 24: (L-R) Actors Octavia Spencer and Taraji P. Henson and Janelle Monae attend Vanity Fair and Genesis Celebrate 'Hidden Figures' on February 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)
EMPIRE: Taraji P. Henson in the 'Toil & Trouble, Pt. 1' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, May 17 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 13: M.A.C. Viva Glam Spokespeople (R) Taraji P. Henson & (L) Jussie Smollett meet fans at M.A.C. Michigan Avenue Store in Chicago on February 13, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jeff Schear/Getty Images for M.A.C. Cosmetics)
LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 12: Taraji P. Henson on the Red Carpet at THE 59TH ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARDS, broadcast live from the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, Sunday, Feb. 12 (8:00-11:30 PM, live ET/5:00-8:30 PM, live PT; 6:00-9:30 PM, live MT) on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Phil McCarten/CBS via Getty Images)
PASADENA, CA - FEBRUARY 11: Actress Taraji P. Henson attends the 48th NAACP Image Awards at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on February 11, 2017 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
PASADENA, CA - FEBRUARY 11: (L-R) Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson and Janelle Monae pose in the press room at the 48th NAACP Image Awards at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on February 11, 2017 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
EMPIRE: Taraji P. Henson in the 'Absent Child' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, May 10 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 29: Taraji P. Henson poses at the 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Expo Hall on January 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 29, 2017 : (L-R) Kirsten Dunst, Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson, and Janelle Monae, co-recipients of the Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture award for 'Hidden Figures', pose in the press room during the 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles, California, the United States, on Jan. 29, 2017. (Xinhua/Zhao Hanrong via Getty Images)
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