Sophie Turner reveals 'suicidal thoughts' and how depression affected her work on 'Game of Thrones'

Ben Arnold
Contributor
Sophie Turner (Credit: Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

Sophie Turner has said that her six-year struggle with depression began to impact her work on Game of Thrones, and that she had “suicidal thoughts” before she joined the show.

The British actress, who plays Sansa Stark in the fantasy series, revealed that her problems began at 17, three years after being cast in the show.

She told Dr. Phil McGraw on his Phil In The Blanks podcast: “I think the biggest challenge — and I’ve had it for the longest out of all my mental health problems — is my depression.

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“I’ve suffered with depression for about five or six years now, and the biggest challenge is just, for me, getting out of bed and getting out of the house. Learning to love yourself is the biggest challenge, I think.”

She added that, although her depression began after she joined the hit show, she had disturbing thoughts from an early age.

“It’s weird. I say I wasn’t very depressed when I was younger, but I used to think about suicide a lot when I was younger. I don’t know why though,” she said.

“Maybe it’s just a weird fascination I used to have, but yeah, I used to think about it.

“I don’t think I ever would have gone through with it. I don’t know”.

Turner, now 23, adds that the effect of social media knocked her confidence while working on Game of Thrones too, after reading negative comments about her acting or her appearance.

“I couldn’t be true to the character, because I was so worried about Sophie,” she said.

Turner in Game of Thrones (Credit: HBO)

Asked whether social media made her depression worse, she added: “I think it contributed. I wouldn’t say that was the main reason, I think it’s some sort of chemical imbalance.

“But I think it definitely was a bit of a catalyst. You see 10 great comments and you ignore them, but one negative comment and it just throws you off.”

Turner, who is from Chesterton in Warwickshire, was still living at home when she says her mental health struggles began, after friends and her brothers left for university.

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND – APRIL 12: Maisie Williams; Kit Harrington; and Sophie Turner at the Game of Thrones Season Finale Premiere at the Waterfront Hall on April 12, 2019 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for HBO)

“It only started to kind of go downhill, I think, when I started to hit puberty — really puberty, though, at like 17 and my metabolism was slowing down massively — and I was gaining weight, and then there was the social media scrutiny and everything and that was when it kind of hit me,” she went on.

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“I had no motivation to do anything, go out. Even with my best friends, I wouldn’t want to see them.

“I wouldn’t want to go out and eat with them. I just would cry and cry and cry over having to get changed and having to put on clothes and be like, I can’t do this. I can’t go outside. I have nothing I want to do.”

The actress says she has sought treatment for depression, however, and credits her fiancé, actor and singer Joe Jonas, with helping her.

“I’ve been doing therapy. I’m on medication, and I love myself now, or more than I used to, I think. I don’t think I loved myself at all.

“But I’m now with someone that makes me realise that I do have some redeeming qualities, I suppose, and when someone tells you they love you every day it makes you really think about why that is and I think it makes you love yourself a bit more.”