Howie Mandel Is 'Recovering' From Being 'Depressed, Neurotic' in COVID Isolation: 'I Went Insane'

Howie Mandel opened up about his mental health struggles after contracting COVID-19 following the Kids' Choice Awards

Howie Mandel
Photo: Kevin Winter/WireImage

For Howie Mandel, dealing with COVID-19 had more of a toll on his mental health than his physical health.

During an interview with TMZ Live Wednesday, the America's Got Talent judge, 66, opened up about the challenges he's faced since contracting COVID-19 at the Kids' Choice Awards, saying that he went "insane" being in quarantine.

"I got locked away for 10 days. I'm vaxxed, and I'm boosted, so my symptoms weren't terrible," he told the outlet. "But ... the mental pain of me being locked in a room for 10 days, not going near anybody ... I went insane."

"I still feel like I'm recovering from that, the insanity. And I'm not joking. I got incredibly depressed, incredibly neurotic," Mandel continued. "My only panacea to my physical health and my mental health is distracting myself. You can't distract yourself for 10 days alone in a room."

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Mandel said that though he and AGT won an award at the Kids' Choice Awards, he felt as though he "lost" by getting sick after the event after being so careful to not get COVID in the last two years.

He noted that he's able to be open about his mental health because he actively goes to therapy.

"I'm in therapy, and I take medication and I do things. But for years and years, there was a stigma — and I think there still is — a stigma attached to mental health," Mandel said.

"What I've learned is the first life preserver that's thrown to yourself is the ability to talk about it. It is kind of healing to talk about it," he added. "And it's just good to be out of the room!"

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Scott Kirkland/Shutterstock (9879950y) Howie Mandel 'America's Got Talent' Season 13 live show, Los Angeles, USA - 11 Sep 2018
Howie Mandel. Scott Kirkland/Shutterstock

Last summer, Mandel talked to PEOPLE about living with severe anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder for nearly his entire life.

"I'm living in a nightmare," said Mandel, who first exhibited symptoms of his OCD — repetitive and intrusive thoughts and fixations, often brought on by his debilitating fear of germs — as a child.

"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," he told PEOPLE in July 2021.

Wed to wife Terry since 1980, Mandel, who is dad to son Alex, 32, and daughters Riley, 30, and Jackie, 38 (who also suffers from anxiety and OCD), said the pandemic was especially triggering for his mental health.

"There isn't a waking moment of my life when 'we could die' doesn't come into my psyche," he said. "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."

If you or someone you know needs mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

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