Howie Mandel is "living in a nightmare" with anxiety and OCD.

Howie Mandel

Howie Mandel

The 'America's Got Talent' judge - who has Alex, 31, and daughters Riley, 28, and Jackie, 36 with wife Terry - has suffered from severe anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder since he developed a fear of germs as child and still finds every day to be a struggle.

He told People magazine: "I'm living in a nightmare. I try to anchor myself. I have a beautiful family and I love what I do. But at the same time, I can fall into a dark depression I can't get out of."

Howie, 65, was first diagnosed with his conditions in his 40s but didn't open up publicly until 2006 because he thought he had "embarrassed" his family.

He recalled: "My first thought was that I've embarrassed my family. Then I thought, 'Nobody is going to hire somebody who isn't stable.' Those were my fears."

However, it was during the COVID-19 pandemic that things escalated for Howie and his daughter Jackie, who also suffers from OCD and anxiety, but he was able to pull through knowing his family were healthy.

He explained: "There isn't a waking moment of my life when 'we could die' doesn't come into my psyche. But the solace I would get would be the fact that everybody around me was okay. It's good to latch onto okay. But [during the pandemic] the whole world was not okay. And it was absolute hell."

Now, the 'St. Elsewhere' star has discovered that comedy helps him to maintain his conditions.

He added: "My coping skill is finding the funny. If I'm not laughing, then I'm crying. And I still haven't been that open about how dark and ugly it really gets.

"Comedy saved me in a way. I'm most comfortable onstage. And when I don't have anything to do, I turn inward - and that's not good."