Dove Cameron was depressed ''long before'' she found fame.

The former Disney star admitted being in the spotlight in her teens affected her mental health and her ''fragile'' nature left her experiencing a lot of ''ups and downs''.

She said: ''[I was] was depressed long before I was famous...

''I'm so open and so fragile that I feel like the world just permeates me all the time and that results in anxiety and depression and confusion and loneliness and ups and downs of being like, 'Wow, I feel so safe -- I want to eat it all, I want to meet you all, I want to love.' And, then I'm like, 'I need to shave my head and move away and never talk to anyone ever again.' ''

The 24-year-old singer-and-actress admitted her ''clean image'' provided her with a way of protecting herself.

She explained to 'Entertainment Tonight': ''I have to regulate myself and pay attention to that, so I developed a clean image that felt protective.

''It felt like, if I'm going to have no one be mad at me and never get in trouble or step on anyone's toes, I'm going to be what I know to be safe. I feel like when you're 16 and in high school, you're probably doing that.

''You're like, 'I want to get good grades, I don't want my parents to be mad at me, I want to dress so I don't get trouble in school.' I was a teenager.''

However, hiding her real personality impacted on Dove as she went through the ''incredibly toxic'' celebrity culture and felt pressure not to be seen as a ''bad girl'', but she's now changed her outlook.

She said: ''I think this culture is so insidious for what is allowed for a woman, especially a developing young woman.

''I wanted my boyfriend to think I was, like, good and beautiful and pure and that I wasn't a bad girl, because bad girls get punished.

''As I've gotten older, I'm like, f**k it. It took me a long time to stop feeling so bad about myself [and like] I needed the approval of everybody, and to start being like, 'I only care about my own approval.'''

The 'Remember Me' singer still struggles and sometimes finds herself crying so much, she ''makes [herself] sick'', and she's been finding things particularly tough while isolating at home with her boyfriend Thomas Doherty due to the coronavirus pandemic.

She said: ''Today I feel fine. It's a day-to-day experience.

''Two days ago, I had a massive breakdown. I was like, 'Humans aren't meant to be cooped up!' This is the ultimate experience [where] you can't distract yourself from yourself, so that affects everybody differently. For me, it's really up and down.

''Some days I'm completely normal, feeling great, feeling creative and grateful for this introspective opportunity and the next day I'm losing my mind. It's a very interesting, trying time.''