Janet Jackson has opened up about her "intense" battle with depression, calling the experience "tenacious and scary".

In a letter published in Essence magazine, the 52-year-old discussed the joy her 1-year-old son Eissa Al Mana brings, but wrote of her darker times as well.

Her 30s were far from perfect, plagued with mental health issues, Jackson said.

"I struggled with depression. The struggle was intense," she wrote. "I could analyse the source of my depression forever. Low self-esteem might be rooted in childhood feelings of inferiority. It could relate to failing to meet impossibly high standards.

"And of course there are always the societal issues of racism and sexism," she continued. "Put it all together and depression is a tenacious and scary condition. Thankfully, I found my way through it."


Janet Jackson performing at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards.

Photo: AP

The following decade was also challenging for her.

"In my forties: Like millions of women in the world, I still heard voices inside my head berating me, voices questioning my value," she wrote.

"Happiness was elusive… A reunion with old friends might make me happy. A call from a colleague might make me happy. But because sometimes I saw my failed relationships as my fault, I easily fell into despair."

In her fifties, however, Jackson has found a source of joy, her baby boy – even amid a contentious split from Eissa's father, Wissam Al Mana.

Early this month, law enforcement performed a welfare check on the child in Al Mana's custody, at Jackson's request. Jackson's brother Randy previously alleged his sister was verbally abused by Al Mana, a charge lawyers for Al Mana called "deeply hurtful" in a statement to People magazine.

But on balance, it seems Jackson has found contentment.

"The height of happiness is holding my baby son in my arms and hearing him coo, or when I look into his smiling eyes and watch him respond to my tenderness," she says in her letter.

"When I kiss him. When I sing him softly to sleep. During those sacred times, happiness is everywhere."

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