Famous people with bipolar

13 Famous People With Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression, affects men and women equally, with about 5.6 million adult Americans (2.6 percent of the population) diagnosed with the condition — including many famous people.

The erratic behavior of some celebrities with mental illness is often attributed to this condition, since bipolar disorder is characterized by disabling mood shifts during which a person goes from an energetic, manic phase to a low, depressed one.

The mood swings of bipolar disorder may be mild or extreme. They can come on slowly or quickly within hours to days. Usually diagnosed in the teenage years to mid-twenties, bipolar disorder can happen at any age and is more prevalent in those who have a family history of the condition.

There are two common subtypes of bipolar disorder: bipolar I and bipolar II. There are other subtypes, most notably cyclothymia, in which patients have depressive and hypomanic symptoms but don’t meet the full criteria for either a major depressive episode or a hypomanic episode.

With bipolar I disorder, people will experience at least one manic episode in their lifetime, and will likely also experience episodes of major depression. You may alternate between extreme states of depression and intense mania. With the mania, you may be unusually elated, hyperactive, and exceptionally talkative, with no need for rest or sleep for days. You may have irritability, racing thoughts, distractibility, and engagement in impulsive or risky behaviors. People with bipolar I disorder may also experience psychotic symptoms including hallucinations, paranoia, or grandiose delusions. This disorder often results in psychiatric hospitalization, and requires long-term treatment with medication. Once bipolar I begins, it characteristically continues throughout a person’s life.

Bipolar II disorder is not a milder form of bipolar I disorder, but a related diagnosis. With bipolar II disorder, people will have at least one episode of major depression and at least one episode of hypomania, which is similar to mania but with less severe symptoms and shorter duration. While both mania and hypomania exhibit grandiose mood and reduced need for sleep, hypomania is a period of incredible energy, charm, and productivity, which is often associated with super-achievers.

Hypomania may be good for some people, but for many people it is uncomfortable, disruptive, and problematic (though not to the degree of a full manic episode, by definition). Manic and hypomanic episodes have the same set of symptoms, and for both you need to have either irritable or elevated mood and increased energy plus three to four additional symptoms, which can include pressured speech, decreased need for sleep, grandiosity, distractability, racing thoughts, increase in goal-directed activity, or risky/impulsive behaviors.

Hypomanic episodes last at least four days and are not severe enough to result in hospitalization or significant functional impairment, and do not have associated psychotic features. Some people do function well during these periods and there is a historical association between bipolar spectrum illnesses and artists; however, many do not do well during hypomania, and then also suffer the major depressive episodes. Both bipolar I and bipolar II disorder require treatment.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the exact cause of bipolar disorder is unknown. But several factors may play a role, including:

  • Physical changes in the brain Both biochemical and environmental factors play a role in bipolar disorder. Researchers think that imbalances in neurotransmitters, the brain chemicals that regulate mood, may trigger this condition. While the meaning of these brain changes is not known, this discovery may help identify bipolar causes in the future.
  • Genetics Experts believe that of all mental health problems, bipolar disorder has the greatest linkage to genes. Bipolar disorder is more common in people who have a first-degree relative, such as a sibling or parent, with the condition.

Risk factors for an episode of bipolar disorder may include having times of high stress, such as the death of a loved one or another traumatic event. Drug and alcohol use are also often associated with bipolar disorder.

Though it’s difficult to confirm if famous people have bipolar disorder, this condition crops up more often among artists, singers, poets, and celebrities. Many celebrities with mental illness, both now and in years past, are thought to have had bipolar disorder. Here’s a closer look at 13 famous people with bipolar disorder.

Additional reporting by Barbara Kean and Maura Corrigan.

Bipolar Disorder and Creativity

Bipolar disorder is a chronic mental illness that causes extreme changes in mood. Moods alternate between happy, energetic highs (mania) and sad, weary lows (depression). These shifts in mood may occur several times each week or just a couple of times a year.

There are three main types of bipolar disorder. These include:

  • Bipolar I disorder. People with bipolar I have at least one manic episode. These manic episodes may be preceded or followed by a major depressive episode, but depression isn’t required for bipolar I disorder.
  • Bipolar II disorder. People with bipolar II have one or more major depressive episodes lasting at least two weeks, as well as one or more mild hypomanic episodes lasting at least four days. In hypomanic episodes, people are still excitable, energetic, and impulsive. However, the symptoms are milder than those associated with manic episodes.
  • Cyclothymic disorder. People with cyclothymic disorder, or cyclothymia, experience hypomanic and depressive episodes for two years or longer. The shifts in mood tend to be less severe in this form of bipolar disorder.

Though there are different types of bipolar disorder, the symptoms of hypomania, mania, and depression are similar in most people. Some common symptoms include:


  • persistent feelings of extreme grief or despair
  • loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable
  • trouble concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things
  • anxiety or irritability
  • eating too much or too little
  • sleeping too much or too little
  • thinking or talking about death or suicide
  • attempting suicide


  • experiencing an overly happy or outgoing mood for a long period of time
  • severe irritability
  • talking quickly, rapidly transitioning different ideas during a conversation, or having racing thoughts
  • inability to focus
  • starting numerous new activities or projects
  • feeling very fidgety
  • sleeping too little or not at all
  • acting impulsively and partaking in dangerous behaviors


Hypomania symptoms are the same as mania symptoms, but they differ in two ways:

  1. With hypomania, shifts in mood usually aren’t severe enough to interfere significantly with a person’s ability to carry out daily activities.
  2. No psychotic symptoms occur during a hypomanic episode. During a manic episode, psychotic symptoms may include delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia.

During these episodes of mania and hypomania, people often feel ambitious and inspired, which may prompt them to start a new creative endeavor.

10 Celebrities Who Live With Bipolar Disorder

No one is immune to mental illness. Even the rich and famous live with mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder. It has been in the past few years that celebrities have come out of the bipolar closet. I am going to list some, not all, of the celebrities who have spoken up and told of their bipolar disorder and what they had to say.

  1. Catherine Zeta Jones, “This is a disorder that affects millions of people and I am one of them. If my revelations of having bipolar II has encouraged one person to seek help, then it is worth it.”
  2. Carrie Fisher, “At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of. They should issue medals along with a steady stream of medication.”
  3. Demi Lavato, “It has become my personal mission to share with others that there is life on the other side of dark times, and that they are not alone. ” She goes on to say, “There is so much shame and misunderstanding associated with mental health. Along with that comes fear. I know that fear kept me from getting help.”
  4. Richard Dreyfuss, “Bipolar is one of those safe, politically correct words that don’t say anything. I am a manic-depressive.” He recommends, “Step away for a second. Understand the advantages that manic depression can give you.”
  5. Mariah Carey, “Until recently I lived in denial and isolation and is constant fear someone would expose me. It was too heavy a burden to carry and I simply couldn’t do that anymore. I sought and received treatment, I put positive people me and got back to doing what I love – writing songs and making music.
  6. Stephen Fry, “Once the understanding is there, we can all stand up and not be ashamed of ourselves, then it makes the rest of the population realize we are just like them but with something a little extra…1 in 4 people have a mental health problem. Many more people have a problem with that.”
  7. Patty Duke, “Lithium saved my life. After just a few weeks on the drug, death-based thoughts were no longer the first I had when I got up and the last when I went to bed. The nightmare that had spanned 30 years was over.”
  8. Pete Wentz, “Living with purpose and having a schedule with my family has brought me balance. I think it can be different for everyone, but for me, just being able to talk through things, meditate and exercise has been helpful.”
  9. Mel Gibson, “I had really good highs, but some very low lows. I found out (recently) that I’m manic depressive.”
  10. Maurice Benard, “As a teen, we’d drink a little, go out and look for fights…I was gung-ho, high on wanting to get that adrenaline rush. But there were times when I was the opposite. And I could never figure out why I could change so much, go from King Kong to so scared.”

In these words, you can probably relate to a few of these celebrities. It is not easy for them just as it is not easy for us, but we prevail.

10 Celebrities Who Live With Bipolar Disorder

After Searching 12 Years for Bipolar Disorder’s Cause, a Team Concludes It Has Many

Seven classes and the key findings that shaped them

The seven phenoclasses, as the U-M team has dubbed them, include standard measures doctors already use to diagnose and track the progress of bipolar disorder.

SEE ALSO: How Research Brightens the Bipolar Disorder Outlook

In addition, they include:

  • Changes in cognition, which includes thinking, reasoning and emotion processing

  • Psychological dimensions such as personality and temperament

  • Measures of behaviors related to substance use or abuse — called motivated behaviors

  • Aspects of the person’s life involving family, intimate relationships and traumas

  • Patterns of sleep and circadian rhythms

  • Measures of how patients’ symptoms change over time and respond to treatment

Some of the key findings the U-M team made in the Prechter cohort include:

  • Migraine headaches are 3½ times more common among people with bipolar disorder than those without. Eating disorders, anxiety disorders and alcohol problems are also more common in those with bipolar disorder, as is metabolic syndrome.

  • More people with bipolar disorder have a history of childhood trauma than those without the condition. It is associated with changes in self-control and attention.

  • People with bipolar disorder had higher levels of saturated fats in their diets, and the research also found associations between levels of certain fat molecules in the blood of patients and their mood or level of symptoms.

  • Looking at the microbes living in the gastrointestinal tracts of patients and comparison volunteers, the researchers found lower levels of a key bacteria type and less diversity of microbes in patients taking antipsychotic medications.

  • Poor sleep appears to play a key role in bipolar disorder, with links found to severity of depression and mania in female, but not male, participants with the condition. Other gender differences emerged in other aspects of the study.

  • People with bipolar disorder who have a strong neurotic tendency in their personalities are more likely to have severe illness, especially among men.

  • A range of cognitive abilities — including memory, executive functioning and motor skills — were poorer in participants with bipolar disorder than those without, in general. The study also found a link between the cognitive abilities of people who carried a particular genetic trait and were taking newer antipsychotic medicines.

  • Two genes, called CACNA1 and ANK3, appear to play a role in susceptibility to developing bipolar disorder. But many genetic variations have been found to be associated with bipolar risk, and more recent findings have explored the role of having a mix of these variations in the chances a person will develop bipolar disorder.

  • Stem cells grown from skin samples taken from participants, and then coaxed to grow into nerve cells called neurons, have proved useful in studying cellular aspects of bipolar disorder. For instance, neurons derived from bipolar patients’ cells were more excitable than comparisons — but calmed down when exposed to lithium, a common treatment for bipolar disorder. Also, the cells show differences in how they interact and function.

  • Key features of speech patterns predict mood states and may be useful outcome measures to predict the need for intervention to prevent episodes of mania or depression.

Although bipolar disorder tends to run in families, the long-term study revealed no one gene explains it, says McInnis, who is the Woodworth Professor of Bipolar Disorder and Depression in the U-M Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry.

“If there was a gene with a strong effect like what we see in breast cancer, for instance, we would have found it,” he explains. “We hope this new framework will provide a new approach to understand this disorder, and other complex diseases, by developing models that can guide a management strategy for clinicians and patients and give researchers consistent variables to measure and assess.”

He adds, “Bipolar disorder has a lot to teach humankind about other illnesses because it covers the breadths of human mood, emotion and behavior like no other condition. What we can learn in bipolar about all these factors will be directly applicable to monitoring other disorders and personalizing the approach to managing them.”

The Prechter Bipolar Research Program is still recruiting participants for its long-term study and accepting donations from those who want to help the research move forward. More information is available at PrechterProgram.org.

20 Successful People Who’ve Struggled With Bipolar Disorder

By Leslie

As America overcomes and eliminates the unfortunate stigma that has been attached to mental illnesses, more and more successful individuals have disclosed their struggles with various disorders. Bipolar disorder, specifically, is one that can startle those who don’t understand it. If not controlled, it can cause shifts in mood and energy, and can hinder the sufferer from undertaking their normal daily activities, thus preventing them from living a normal life. That’s why it’s encouraging to hear that someone such as Catherine Zeta-Jones, who seems almost perfect, has persevered with it amid the challenges it constantly presents. Curious about who else has succeeded with bipolar disorder? The list is actually quite extensive, so we’ve decided to compile just a few. Whether you’re in high school, college or entrenched in the real world, and you’ve been diagnosed as bipolar, know that with a little help, you can do anything.

  1. Catherine Zeta-Jones, actress: While scanning the recent headlines, you may have seen that Zeta-Jones checked into a facility to treat her bipolar II disorder, a high-risk form of bipolar disorder that includes at least one hypomanic episode and one major depressive episode. In the last year, she has dealt with her husband Michael Douglas’s battle with Stage 4 throat cancer, which has certainly added great stress to her life. She recently spoke to People Magazine: “If my revelation of having bipolar II has encouraged one person to seek help, then it is worth it. There is no need to suffer silently and there is no shame in seeking help.”
  2. Russell Brand, actor and comedian: Known and beloved for his eccentric behavior, it’s almost as if Brand’s manic depression is just a part of his persona. However, it can be attributed as the source of many of his problems, including substance abuse, self-mutilation and bulimia. Brand has been clean and sober since 2002 and regularly attends Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings. His success hit an all-time high when he recently starred in Get Him to the Greek.
  3. Demi Lovato, actress and singer-songwriter: Just 18 years old, Lovato seemingly has a lifetime of experience under her belt. She has reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 top albums chart, starred in several Disney movies, and has battled bipolar disorder and depression from a young age. She revealed her illness not long after Zeta-Jones did the same, telling People, “I feel like I am in control now where my whole life I wasn’t in control.”
  4. Frank Bruno, boxer: The former WBC heavyweight champion was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2003, which he partially attributed to his use of cocaine. Although it’s not characteristic for boxers to admit or show weakness, he has spoken publically about mental health and has even offered to help former English professional footballer Paul Gascoigne, who has undergone treatment for the disorder.
  5. Jean-Claude Van Damme, actor: During the height of his popularity in the action film genre, Van Damme began experiencing bipolar disorder and bouts with cocaine addiction. In 1998, he was diagnosed with rapid cycling bipolar disorder, which includes four or more episodes per year. He has since overcome addiction and stays busy, and appears in several films due for release in 2011.
  6. Pete Wentz, musician: Wentz once told Q magazine, “I have manic depression. I obsess over everything. When I am depressed, I can’t get out of bed.” In 2005, he attempted suicide once he became overwhelmed with negative thoughts, but he rebounded to release platinum and double platinum albums with Fall Out Boy. In addition to his musical contributions, he’s often praised for his philanthropy, specifically his involvement with Invisible Children and UNICEF’s Tap Project.
  7. Stephen Fry, actor and writer: Known for being a member of the English comedy duo Fry and Laurie among many other things — he’s also recognized as a journalist, playwright, poet and film director — it’s difficult to imagine Fry as someone who’s endured the effects of bipolar disorder. He hasn’t fully embraced treatment, though. He explained that decision by telling The Independent, “It’s tormented me all my life with the deepest of depressions while giving me the energy and creativity that perhaps has made my career.”
  8. Mariette Hartley, actress: Hartley has a family history of mental illness and therefore fully understands its impact. Her father committed suicide when she was in her early 20s and she began drinking at the age of 14 to compensate for her depression. After being misdiagnosed as depressed just twice — and prescribed antidepressants that worsened her condition — she began dealing with bipolar disorder in the proper manner. In order to help others, she has spoken about her struggles and founded the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
  9. Jack Irons, drummer: After leaving the Red Hot Chili Peppers, then-25-year-old Irons was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It affected his music career, but with the right treatment, he made strides with his mental health. In 1998, as a member of Pearl Jam, he explained his improvement to Modern Drummer Magazine: “Gradually over time, I figured out activities and strategies to help me get through. I used alternative means, such as acupuncture and holistic medicine in conjunction with the medications.”
  10. Brian Wilson, musician: The Beach Boys weren’t quite the same when Wilson went MIA due to his mental health issues and drug abuse. Diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder bipolar type, he dealt with uncontrollable voices in his head and a number of other problems that were exacerbated by his addiction. Fortunately, a combination of antidepressants has enabled him to rejoin the band and perform again in recent years.
  11. Carrie Fisher, actress: Many Star Wars fans were surprised when Carrie Fisher revealed her battle against bipolar disorder. She was initially diagnosed at age 24, but because she was in denial, she didn’t receive treatment until the age of 28. Previously addicted to prescription medication, she now receives electroshock therapy treatments as a method to deal with the illness.
  12. Dick Cavett, journalist: Like many students who go off to college, Cavett began suffering a bout with depression during his freshman year at Yale. Although it was successfully treated at the time, he experienced an episode of disorientation in 1980, and in 1997, he was sued for breach of contract because he failed to show up to a nationally syndicated radio program due to a manic episode. Cavett has been candid about his mental illness — appropriate given his adeptness at discussing important, often unexplored issues on his talk show.
  13. Margaret Trudeau, former First Lady of Canada: Thrust into the Canadian national spotlight at the age of 22 when she married then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Margaret Trudeau has seen many ups and downs in her life. She struggled to make a living after their divorce, and was forced to face the mental illness that was plaguing her life. Since 2006, she has undertaken numerous speaking engagements in an effort to reduce the stigma associated with the disorder.
  14. Linda Hamilton, actress: Hamilton spent two decades attempting to treat her mental illness — her instability was reflected in her movie characters and resulted in her failed marriage to actor Bruce Abbott. Because her life has changed for the better since she discovered the problem and addressed it, she has spoken publically about it — like Trudeau and several other of the successful individuals on this list — hoping to “destigmatize the words mental illness” and spread hope.
  15. Richard Dreyfuss, actor: An Academy Award-winning actor and outspoken political activist, it’s no surprise Dreyfuss is comfortable enough in his own shoes to share his struggles with bipolar disorder, the symptoms of which, as you might expect, fueled his sometimes eccentric behavior. According to Dreyfuss, his “pharmaceutical regime” has enabled him to start a family and reclaim his career.
  16. Sinead O’Conner, singer-songwriter: From tearing up a photo of Pope John Paul II at Madison Square Garden to becoming a mother, it’s been a long strange trip for Sinead. Her abusive upbringing and immense fame worsened her mental state, and she eventually attempted suicide on her 33rd birthday, four years before she was diagnosed as bipolar. Now, however, she says she has a new outlook on life.
  17. Ned Beatty, actor: Beatty has forged a career as one of the film industry’s most reliable supporting men, and believe it or not, many of those who’ve worked with him never knew he suffered from bipolar disorder. It’s not something he’s recently discovered — he was diagnosed with Type 2 when he was in his early 20s, well-before he memorably appeared in Deliverance.
  18. Patty Duke, actress: Before Duke was diagnosed, she attempted suicide five times, a turbulent existence for former Academy Award winner. She got her life in order after her 1982 diagnosis and publically disclosed her struggles in 1987, becoming the first celebrity to do so. Since then, she has been educating the public on mental illness, even lobbying Congress on the issue.
  19. Jane Pauley, journalist: At a 2008 fundraiser, Pauley summarized the severity of the disorder, describing it as “an isolating disease.” Her first episode occurred when she was 50, almost 30 years into her established career in which she hosted The Today Show and Dateline NBC. “At best, I enjoyed a few weeks of high-octane creativity and confidence, but after that, it was just an idling engine on overdrive. The intensity of thought was exhausting. Living with me had to be very hard.” The productivity wasn’t worth the pain, and she sought help to solve the problem.
  20. Patrick Kennedy, former U.S. Representative: It has been well-documented that being a Kennedy can be quite difficult. Former eight-term congressman Patrick Kennedy has been in and out drug rehabilitation facilities since he was a teenager, but his status as a member of one of the most privileged families in America ensures he hasn’t received a ton of sympathy. Nevertheless, he’s open about his struggles with bipolar disorder, and has chosen to change his life because of it, opting to no longer serve in office.

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Bipolar disorder

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder affects a person’s moods so that they swing from one emotional extreme to another. A person with bipolar disorder will have episodes of depression when they feel very low, and episodes of mania when they feel very high. It used to be called manic depression.
Unlike the mood swings most of us experience, a person with bipolar disorder will have episodes of extreme depression or mania lasting for several weeks or longer. These can affect everyday life, work and relationships.
Most people with bi-polar disorder can, with the right balance of medication and other therapies, live full and healthy lives. They learn to recognise both the triggers and the early onset symptoms and take the steps needed to prevent a mood swing from disrupting their lives. Many highly successful individuals – like Stephen Fry – manage their bi-polar disorder and live to the full.

There are two main types of bipolar disorder:

  • Bipolar I: manic episodes lasting for more than a week. A person with bipolar disorder may have a period of depression after a manic episode, but this isn’t necessarily the case.
  • Bipolar II: depressive episodes lasting for more than a week. These tend to be followed by a period of mania (less severe than those for a person with Bipolar I) during which ‘normal’ life can still be manageable.

There are two other less common types of bipolar disorder:

  • Rapid cycling: more than four episodes of extreme depression or mania a year. This affects around one in ten people with the condition.
  • Cyclothymia: less severe episodes but lasting longer.

How common is bipolar disorder?

It affects around one in 100 people. For both men and women it usually develops between the ages of 18 and 24.

Why is it important to get treatment?

Bipolar disorder is a long-term mental illness and will get worse if not treated. An untreated person will have more frequent and more severe episodes as time goes on. Treatment can reduce the frequency and severity of episodes, helping a person lead a full life.
The care team at WLMHT will help people with this condition develop the skills they need to manage their bipolar disorder and not become isolated during episodes of mania or depression. Making sure a person understands their own strengths and resources is an important element of our work at WLMHT.

Living with bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder usually lasts a lifetime with repeated episodes of mania and depression. Between episodes, many people with bipolar disorder will have long periods without symptoms.
With support, a person with bipolar disorder can lead a satisfying and stable life. The WLMHT care team helps people recover and maintain stability so that they can engage in meaningful activity and develop relationships, regardless of whether they experience repeated episodes.

Care at WLMHT

The WLMHT care team works in partnership with a person and, if appropriate, their carers. Together, they discuss the course of their condition and get a complete history of symptoms and experiences before suggesting treatment options.
The focus at WLMHT is on helping a person develop the skills they need to have active control over their lives and take responsibility for managing their symptoms.
We consider the needs of the whole person, not just the symptoms, and aim to develop a person’s coping skills so they can maintain independence and better manage their symptoms. This includes taking into account each person’s diverse needs, personal treatment preferences and lifestyle factors.

Research at WLMHT

WLMHT is one of the most research-active mental health trusts in the UK. Research into bi-polar, its symptoms, causes and treatments is one of the priority areas for researchers at WLMHT. Patients and carers receiving treatment through our clinical service often benefit from participating in research. Patients and carers are encouraged to ask their doctor or nurse what research studies may be suitable for them.

10 Famous People With Bipolar Disorder

By Sarah Fader

Updated September 27, 2019

Reviewer Audrey Kelly, LMFT

Bipolar disorder is a serious brain disorder characterized by changes in mood, activity, and energy levels. This disorder can be severe enough to impact an individual’s ability to go about their daily life, work, and have healthy relationships.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately 2.6% of the American adult population suffers from bipolar disorder, and 25 years old is the average age of onset.

The symptoms of bipolar disorder are treatable. The important (and sometimes difficult) first step is to get diagnosed. Once a person has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, treatment in the form of medication and psychotherapy can have a positive impact on their quality of life. Unfortunately, left untreated, bipolar disorder can result in many problems including substance abuse and suicide.

Unfortunately, the NIMH also points out that only about 48% of patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder receive treatment. In many instances, the treatment received by the other 52% is minimally adequate. The result is that stigma, and things like inadequate treatment programs often lead to worse outcomes for bipolar patients. That doesn’t need to be the case.

If you or someone you know might be suffering from bipolar disorder, reaching out to a doctor or counselor (in-person or using an online counseling service like BetterHelp) is a good first step towards getting the support you need.

Here are 10 famous people with bipolar disorder, and some of the things we can learn from their stories:

Source: commons.wikimergdia.org

  1. Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2010 when she was 22 years old. Before that, she suffered from misdiagnosis and struggled with depression, self-harm, and an eating disorder. Luckily, with therapy and treatment, she has been able to turn her life around. Since then, she has opened up about her struggles and is now a strong advocate for therapy and treatment.

Like many famous people with bipolar disorder, Demi’s manic episodes seem to help fuel her career. During her ‘highs,’ the singer would write several songs in the middle of the night, struck by inspiration. The problem is that at first, no one saw these as signs of bipolar disorder, and when she was ‘down’ many people believed that Demi was simply suffering from depression.

  1. Jean-Claude Van Damme

Actor Jean-Claude Van Damme is another famous person whose life was affected by the undiagnosed bipolar disorder. Before his diagnosis, Jean-Claude unknowingly managed his symptoms by training in ballet and martial arts. After his acting career launched in 1988 is when things started to go downhill, and Van Damme began a downward spiral that included four failed marriages and cocaine addiction.

Van Damme went to rehab in 1996 and was diagnosed with the rapid-cycling bipolar disorder after becoming suicidal a year later. According to Medical News Today, patients with the rapid-cycling bipolar disorder have “four or more manic, hypomanic, or depressive episodes in a 12-month period”. With treatment and medication, the actor was able to overcome his substance abuse. Van Damme is now very open about his bipolar disorder.

  1. Catherine Ζeta-Jones

In 2011, after her husband, Michael Douglas’ well-known battle with throat cancer, Oscar-winning actress Catherine Ζeta-Jones announced that she suffers from bipolar II disorder. At the time, a representative explained that she was undergoing in-patient treatment. Ζeta-Jones is one example of how stressful events can be a trigger for bipolar disorder or bipolar episodes.

As a mother of two, Catherine has had to be strong for her children. That meant learning to live with her disorder (and the highs and lows that are associated with it). Like other celebrities, by sharing her journey with bipolar II disorder Ζeta-Jones shows people that they aren’t alone and that people with this illness can live happily and fulfilled lives.

  1. Russel Brand

Russel Brand is a British actor and stand-up comedian who talks about his relationship with bipolar disorder in his writing and comedy. Another famous person who has suffered because of misdiagnosis, Brand was treated for depression in his youth and only later diagnosed with ADHD and bipolar disorder. Over the years he’s suffered from various problems including binge eating, sex addiction, and drug abuse.

Source: flickr.com

Through his experiences, Brand has come to learn a lot about his behavior and tendencies. After doing drugs daily for years, he got clean and sober. Since then, he has dedicated some of his time to helping other people do the same. He has been through rehab and still goes to AA and NA meetings. Like many celebrities with bipolar disorder, Brand is open about his struggles with manic and depressive episodes.

  1. Carrie Fisher

Actress Carrie Fisher is best known for her role as Princess Leia in Star Wars, but not everyone knows about her struggles with addiction and bipolar disorder. Fisher was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 24. Before then she tried to contain her manic episodes by using drugs, which she says made her feel more ‘normal.’ She didn’t accept her diagnosis until a drug overdose four years later.

Like some other bipolar celebrities, Carrie came around to treatment and medication after suffering from manic and depressive episodes (although her manic episodes are known for being very productive). The great thing about Carrie Fisher is that she refused to be a victim of her bipolar disorder and advocated passionately about the illness. She even wrote an Ask Carrie Fisher column for The Guardian.

  1. Amy Winehouse

Sadly, not all stories about celebrities with bipolar disorder have such happy endings. British singer/songwriter Amy Winehouse, who died at the age of 27, struggled with substance abuse and what was believed to be an untreated bipolar disorder. Her famous song ‘Rehab’ is one example of Amy telling her story through her art, but unfortunately, the song didn’t stop the drug overdose that ended her life.

Source: flickr.com

Amy Winehouse is just one example of many artists and creatives whose work was fueled by their manic and depressive episodes. These artists draw inspiration from their experiences, which are quite different from most people’s and often misunderstood. When patients are misdiagnosed or refuse to take part in treatment, many ends up self-medicating and going down self-destructive paths.

  1. Kurt Kobain

Kurt Cobain is another example of an artist whose bipolar disorder and addiction seemed to fuel his career. The whole thing ultimately ended in tragedy when the famous Nirvana frontman committed suicide by shooting himself with a shotgun in 1994. At the time he was 27 years old. Cobain is also another celebrity who was misdiagnosed as only suffering from depression.

According to Kurt Kobain’s cousin, Bev Cobain, Kurt was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and ADD but didn’t follow treatment. Like many people who suffer from bipolar disorder, he was addicted to drugs before committing suicide. Many parts of Kurt Cobain’s life, including his depression, periods of mania or high activity, and fits of rage he was known to have, are all characteristic of someone with bipolar.

  1. Winston Churchill

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill is known for being an army officer, author, and politician. What most people don’t know is that Churchill suffered from depressive episodes, which he referred to as his ‘black dog.’ Winston Churchill’s doctor diagnosed him with bipolar disorder after witnessing symptoms including mania, depression, and suicidal ideation, although the diagnosis is controversial.

Many people are reluctant to believe that such an achieved man could have bipolar disorder since the illness tends to have such a negative connotation. While Churchill had many of the symptoms associated with bipolar, including possibly self-medicating with alcohol, his story just goes to show that people with bipolar disorder can live relatively functional lives and achieve great things.

  1. Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson is a prolific actor known for his roles in movies like Lethal Weapon, Braveheart, and The Passion of the Christ. Despite playing in popular movies, he received negative press after being arrested for drunk driving in 2006 and making angry anti-Semitic comments. In a 2008 documentary, Gibson revealed that he’d been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Source: flickr.com

Since then, Gibson has been known for rage issues and alcohol abuse. A couple of years later in 2010, there was a scandal involving recorded threats that the actor made threatening ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva’s life. Because no one knows who diagnosed him, it isn’t very clear if Mel Gibson has bipolar disorder. If he does, this would be another example of what happens when the illness goes untreated.

  1. Sinéad O’Connor

The story of Sinéad O’Connor is one that is somewhat complicated but deserves to be told. It seems like the celebrity world is full of individuals who lived with an undiagnosed bipolar disorder that massively affected their lives, but what about people who are misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder? Irish singer/songwriter Sinéad O’Connor was diagnosed with bipolar after becoming depressed and suicidal.

After starting a treatment plan that involved medication, O’Connor’s suicidal thoughts went away, and she was able to live a more normal life. The singer was on anti-psychotic medication for eight years before she began to question her diagnosis, eventually finding out that she suffers from PTSD. Sinéad O’Connor’s story shows that second opinions can be important when diagnosing mental illness.


Examples of famous people with bipolar disorder help spread awareness, encourage people to seek out diagnosis and treatment, and help warn about the risks of misdiagnosis or lack of treatment. While these examples show how bipolar disorder can fuel creative and productive activity, they also show how this illness often ends in substance abuse and tragedy.

Although bipolar disorder is not common and only occurs in about 1-2.6% of the American population, those numbers still translate to millions of people suffering each year. If you think you or someone you know might have bipolar disorder, it’s important to know that you are not alone. Getting a proper diagnosis and follow a treatment plan that works for you is the best way to manage bipolar disorder.

15 Celebrities You May Not Know Live With Bipolar Disorder

It can be hard to open up about a mental health condition. In recent years, however, mental health conversations have moved from private spaces to the public stage, with celebrities and other public figures speaking out about their experiences with mental health. Having this conversation publicly helps reduce stigma and provide education on conditions people may not really understand.

One such condition is bipolar disorder, which causes extreme shifts in a person’s mood — from emotional highs (mania or hypomania depending on the type) to deep lows (depression). It can also affect your energy or ability to think clearly, and can get in the way of your daily life.

If you have bipolar disorder, you are not alone. According to the Bipolar International Foundation, about 2.6% of the U.S. population has a bipolar diagnosis. It affects women and men equally. Treatment, like therapy, medication or a combination of both, have helped many people living with the condition.

No matter where you’re at in your journey with bipolar disorder, we wanted to remind you you’re not alone. We rounded up 15 celebrities who have spoken publicly about living with bipolar disorder.

1. Mariah Carey

via Mariah Carey’s Instagram

Mariah Carey shared her journey with bipolar disorder for the first time in 2018. Before she was diagnosed, she thought her symptoms were part of a sleep disorder until she realized something more was going on. Carey told People in 2018:

For a long time I thought I had a severe sleep disorder. But it wasn’t normal insomnia and I wasn’t lying awake counting sheep. I was working and working and working … I was irritable and in constant fear of letting people down. It turns out that I was experiencing a form of mania.

Carey was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2001 but delayed seeking treatment for 17 years because she didn’t want it leaked to the public. Eventually Carey realized she needed support, which helped her get back to what she loved.

“Until recently I lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me,” Carey said. “It was too heavy a burden to carry and I simply couldn’t do that anymore. I sought and received treatment, I put positive people around me and I got back to doing what I love — writing songs and making music.”

2. Catherine Zeta-Jones

via Catherine Zeta-Jones’ Instagram

Welsh actress Catherine Zeta-Jones spoke publicly for the first time about living with bipolar II disorder in 2011, following treatment at a mental health clinic. In 2012 she spoke with InStyle about living with the condition.

“With my bipolar becoming public, I hope fellow sufferers will know it’s completely controllable,” Zeta-Jones said. “I hope I can help remove any stigma attached to it, and that those who don’t have it under control will seek help with all that is available to treat it.”

While living with the highs and lows of bipolar disorder can be very confusing, disruptive and uncomfortable, Zeta-Jones highlighted in a 2016 interview with Good Housekeeping that sometimes getting a diagnosis — and having the language to describe what’s happening — can be freeing.

“Finding out that it was called something was the best thing that ever happened to me!” she said. “The fact that there was a name for my emotions and that a professional could talk me through my symptoms was very liberating.”

3. Demi Lovato

via Demi Lovato’s Instagram

Singer and actress Demi Lovato is well-known for speaking publicly about her experiences with bipolar disorder, addiction and the importance of addressing the stigma surrounding mental health. She’s also been frank about how often the journey to mental wellness is a process — not necessarily a linear path to recovery.

Speaking to People Magazine in 2016 about seeking mental health treatment, Lovato highlighted that support from others, including her treatment team and loved ones, on an ongoing basis has been crucial to her recovery.

“They’re there for me at any moment of the day and will be there to support me throughout my recovery,” Lovato said. “That relationship is ongoing — it’s not something where you see a therapist once or you see your psychiatrist once, it’s something you maintain to make sure that you want to live with mental illness. You have to take care of yourself.”

4. Maurice Benard

via Maurice Benard’s Instagram

Soap TV star Maurice Benard is best known for his role as mob kingpin Sonny Corinthos on “General Hospital.” He shares at least one thing in common with his fictional character: They both have bipolar disorder. Benard was diagnosed with the condition at age 22 and has been taking lithium for more than 20 years to manage his mood swings.

“I’ve been on it straight for 22 years and I think I’ve done pretty well,” Benard said during a 2016 episode of the “The Dr. Oz Show.” “The only drawback in not taking the medication is having a breakdown.”

Benard added that sometimes the highs of hypomania or mania can feel really good, and it may seem like you no longer need medication or treatment. But Benard said the high periods are always followed by a serious depression, so for him, staying on his medication is key.

“People love the manics, the highs, the grandiose feeling like you can do anything,” Bernard said. “You feel incredible. For me, the depression that came when I would fall — I don’t ever want to feel that. So stay on your medication.”

5. Kanye West

via Kim Kardashian West’s Instagram

Rapper Kanye West has carved a controversial path in the mental health advocacy world, especially in regards to bipolar disorder. At times he has embraced his diagnosis, but he has been outspoken about not wanting to take medication.

“We never had therapists in the black community. We never approached taking a medication,” West said in an interview with Jimmy Kimmel last year. “I think it’s good that when I had my first complete blackout at age 5, my mom didn’t fully medicate me. Because I might have never been ‘Ye.’”

While not being on medication may work for West, there is no shame in needing or taking medication to treat your condition. West has frequently said he doesn’t want medication to put a damper on his creativity. However, by working with a good psychiatrist, it’s very likely you can find a medication that will treat the disruptive symptoms of bipolar disorder without blunting how you feel or your ability to do what you love.

6. Bebe Rexha

via Bebe Rexha’s Instagram

Singer-songwriter Bebe Rexha recently revealed her bipolar diagnosis on Twitter. “I’m bipolar and I’m not ashamed anymore. That is all. (Crying my eyes out),” Rexha wrote. This may be the first time the “Meant to Be” singer has shared her specific mental health diagnosis, but it’s not the first time she has covered mental health topics.

Rexha told Health in March that her record label initially didn’t want to release her 2014 song, “I’m Gonna Show You Crazy.” The first line of lyrics start, “There’s a war inside my head.” Rexha self-released the track on Spotify, and its relatable themes quickly made the track a popular listen. Rexha said the music industry is much more open to talking about mental health now, and it’s not something she plans to shy away from.

“I’ve gone through so much stuff with my mental health,” Rexha told Health. “That’s something that’s a really big part of who I am.”

7. Carrie Fisher

via Billie Lourd’s Instagram

Carrie Fisher was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in her 20s, following a near-fatal drug overdose. According to Quartz, it took Fisher “years” to accept that she had bipolar disorder, and once she did, she became outspoken about her treatment for the condition.

“At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage,” she wrote in her memoir, “Wishful Drinking.” “They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication.”

Combined with her wit, Fisher was a beacon of hope to many who lived with mental illness, and she paved the way for other celebrities to do the same. Fisher died in 2016 after a heart attack. Her urn was a giant Prozac pill — a fitting way to honor her sense of humor and activism in the mental health community.

8. David Harbour

via David Harbour’s Instagram

“Stranger Things” actor David Harbour spoke candidly about his mental health and bipolar diagnosis on the podcast “WTF with Marc Maron” last year. He was diagnosed with bipolar at age 25 after a mental “break” that required inpatient hospitalization.

Harbour said of the experience, “I thought I was in connection to some sort of God that I wasn’t really in connection to. I actually did have a manic episode and I was diagnosed as bipolar.” He added that he has since been in treatment with medications that, while at times a struggle, help him manage bipolar disorder.

Harbour also shared a message for others who may be struggling. In a tweet promoting the podcast episode, he wrote, “If someone you love still suffers shame about a diagnosis or a fellow parent worries that their bipolar kid won’t be able to make it, our @WTFpod could soothe.”

9. Halsey

via Halsey’s Twitter

Singer-songwriter Halsey didn’t shy away from speaking about having bipolar disorder in an interview with Elle in 2015 where she called herself an “inconvenient woman.” She shared her experiences with the condition as well as misconceptions people have about mental illness.

“I have bipolar disorder,” Halsey said. “I’ve never talked about that in an interview before. I never brought it up. A lot of people I work with probably don’t know it. I think this is a good time to talk about it. I was diagnosed when I was 16 or 17. My mom has it, too.”

Halsey also spoke about growing up with a parent with mental illness, which sometimes created a chaotic childhood. However, Halsey said she has learned to embrace many of the ways she feels “different” thanks to her mom, including some of the emotional intensity she feels. “The thing about having bipolar disorder, for me, is that I’m really empathetic. I feel everything around me so much,” Halsey said.

10. AJ Mendez Brooks

via AJ Mendez Brooks’ Instagram

AJ Mendez Brooks, also known by her ring name AJ Lee, is a former WWE superstar and three-time WWE Divas champion. In her 2017 memoir, “Crazy Is My Superpower: How I Triumphed by Breaking Bones, Breaking Hearts and Breaking the Rules,” Mendez Brooks discussed her diagnosis and treatment for bipolar disorder.

“You have to figure out the things that work,” Mendez Brooks said in an interview about the book. “For me, it’s a little bit of everything, of therapy and medication and especially being active.” She added that being active (and the resulting endorphins) is her own form of therapy.

Mendez Brooks acknowledged, however, that everyone needs to figure out their own bipolar disorder treatment, because everybody is different. And sometimes that means also realizing what doesn’t work first.

“So it is very much the story of what I do to make it better every day and what I’m going to try and experiment with, and things I’ve done wrong,” Mendez Brooks said. “So it’s very much that, ‘Don’t do this, but maybe try this.’ … It took me a decade to figure out the cocktail that works for me.”

11. Stephen Fry

via Stephen Fry’s Instagram

Comedian, actor and writer Stephen Fry has spent decades championing mental health awareness, including as president of U.K.-based organization Mind and by producing mental health documentaries to reduce mental health stigma.

While creating his documentary “The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive” in 2006, Fry said finally getting a bipolar diagnosis at age 37 helped him understand the mental health symptoms he experienced his whole life. “I’d never heard the word before, but for the first time I had a diagnosis that explains the massive highs and miserable lows I’ve lived with all my life,” Fry said.

In a 2018 interview on the podcast “Happy Place,” Fry highlighted that bipolar disorder, like many mental health conditions, doesn’t define you, but it does require a lifetime of mindful self-care.

“I’ve always viewed it’s not who I am. It’s a condition I live with,” Fry said. “I’m not going to kid myself that it’s cured because it isn’t, that if I keep picking at the scab, it’s not going to be good for me. It’s not going to be good for my mental health.”

12. Patty Duke

via Sean Astin’s Instagram

Oscar- and Emmy-winning actress Patty Duke was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1982 and became a mental health advocate, one of the first celebrities to speak publicly about mental health. In an interview with Lifescript nearly three years before her death in 2016, Duke discussed why she made the choice to advocate for mental health at a time when almost nobody else would talk about it.

“I wanted to get the word out that treatment is available,” Duke said. “If you had diabetes or a heart condition and you had to take medicine, you’d take it. People don’t think of mental illness as a physiological situation, and most times it is.”

She also pointed out it’s important to realize you can have a wide range of emotions when you live with bipolar disorder and still be in control, especially if you seek treatment. “I learned that you can be down and not be out of control. You can also enjoy life,” she said.

13. Richard Dreyfuss

via Richard Dreyfuss’ Twitter

Award-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss has been open about his struggles with living with bipolar disorder. The “Jaws” actor first spoke publicly about his experience in the 2006 documentary, “Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive.”

Like others who live with bipolar disorder, Dreyfuss said in a Today interview in 2013 that at first he just thought he was really happy sometimes before he knew he had a mental health condition. Eventually he realized his moods could get out of control, and getting a bipolar diagnosis helped him see things a little differently.

“Stigma is a word that should be kicked away — and ‘shame’ and ‘guilt’ — because it’s a condition,” Dreyfuss said. “ took away all of my guilt because I found out it wasn’t my behavior — it was something I was born with.” He added, “I didn’t feel shame or guilt. It’s like being ashamed that you’re 5-foot-6 or something. It’s just part of me.”

14. Pete Wentz

via Pete Wentz’s Instagram

Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz has long been open about his struggles with mental health. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Wentz said at first he had a hard time balancing out his high and low emotional states. With the help of a therapist, however, he was able to be able to recognize when a major mood change was coming.

“My highs, my happiness are really high and my lows are very low and I’m not able to regulate between the two,” Wentz told Howard Stern in 2015. “Through actual therapy and having kids it’s way more under control and something I can see when I’m on the roller coaster and control it more.”

Wentz later talked about how he manages his mental health. While this will mean something different for everyone, Wentz has found the support of his family and talking through things an important component of keeping his bipolar symptoms in check.

“Living with purpose and having a schedule with my family has brought me balance,” Wentz told People in 2018. “I think it can be different for everyone, but for me, just being able to talk through things, meditate and exercise have been helpful.”

15. Maria Bamford

via Maria Bamford’s Twitter

Comedian and actress Maria Bamford often discusses mental health from a self-deprecating perspective in her work. She has starred in “Lady Dynamite,” a Netflix show based loosely on her life that tackles such topics. Bamford was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 40, following a three-day stay in a hospital and previously having been diagnosed with depression.

When asked about developing material after going through what she has experienced, including three hospitalizations in under a two-year span, Bamford told Huffington Post in 2014 that she found her power in speaking publicly about mental health. She hoped by sharing her experiences, she would open the door for others too.

“I think it was empowering,” she said. “I was very ashamed about it. So if I talked about it, I was making it OK with myself and it felt kind of useful because I thought if anyone else has gone through similar situations like this, well, okay, then maybe they won’t feel so bad.”

If you are struggling with a bipolar diagnosis, know there are treatment options available to you and it’s OK to seek help when you need it, whether that’s a therapist, doctor or your loved ones. Remember, you don’t have to go through this alone.

If you’d like to connect with people who really “get” what it’s like to live with a mental illness, The Mighty community is here for you. To give and get support, post a Thought or Question on The Mighty with the hashtag #CheckInWithMe.

You can also check out these other bipolar stories that have helped others in The Mighty community:

  • “20 Pictures That Show the Different Ways Bipolar Disorder Manifests“
  • “The 9 Worst Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder We Don’t Talk About“
  • “11 Unexpected Coping Techniques for People With Bipolar Disorder“


Bipolar disorder is a mental state characterized by extreme shifts in mood. The common symptoms of bipolar disorder are extremely elevated mood called mania which may include episodes of depression. Bipolar disorder is also known as bipolar disease or manic depression. An individual having bipolar mental state has problems managing everyday tasks/chores and having problems in maintaining relationships.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder:

  1. Mania: A state wherein an individual feels high emotions such as excitement, impulsiveness, and energetic. In the manic phase, an individual is engaged in spending and sometimes the use of drugs.
  2. Hypomania: It is a similar form of mania, but not as severe as mania. Unlike mania, hypomania may not result in any trouble at work, school, or in social relations. However, individuals may feel changes in moods.
  3. Depression: Behaviors include sadness, hopelessness, lower self- esteem, loss of energy, lack of interest in activities, fear of the crowd, avoiding social gatherings etc.

“Glam Life” is often perceived as very aspirational and attractive, but is not known to many that actually, it’s a shallow world. Every celebrity has to prove his/her mettle everyday else they will be replaced. This is the leading cause of fear will affect the mental well-being of the individuals and this is primarily the reason why celebrities (who we feel are living THE life) suffer through mental illness and majorly bipolar disorder.

Here are a few celebrities who suffered through bipolar disorder:

Shama Sikander: This T.V actress rose to fame with Bollywood telly serial ‘Ye Meri Life Hai’ back in 2004. Now, she was recently seen in the short film ‘Sexaholic’. The actress expressed her experience of bipolar disorder as “For one year I did not even know what was happening to me so, I had no idea and I just used to feel very dark, gloomy and sad. I did not know what the reason behind this was, but I felt directionless. I felt hopeless and I hope that never happens to anybody because hope is what we survive on and if we don’t have hope we have nothing. The feeling was so dark that I would wake up at night and start crying without knowing why I am crying. Only someone who has gone through it can understand and how I feel it is.”

Yo Yo Honey Singh: The popular RAP singer recently confessed that he slipped into social isolation following his confrontation with the disorder. The whole experience for Yo-Yo was scary and difficult as he also was an alcoholic. He has fought a long and very difficult battle with alcoholism and bipolar disorder. To quote him “It was scary”– the one year in darkness.

Marilyn Monroe: She was a legendary American actress, model, and singer. Famous for playing comic “blonde bombshell” characters. The beautiful actress suffered from manic depression and had terrible mood swings. There is a lot of mystery surrounding her life and death and rumours had always been rife about her alcohol and drug problem.

Catherine Zeta-Jones: The Legend of Zorro’ actress revealed her illness and how she battled it for a long time. The actress had found her home to be a place where she can “hide”. After a low-key health treatment, she slowly came got back to her everyday life.

Vivien Leigh: She was an English stage and film actress, best known for her iconic Oscar-winning role as Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone With the Wind”, Vivien. Vivien was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and her unpredictable behaviour eventually ruined her professional reputation and destroyed her marriage.

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