Did you know bipolar disorder affects 5.7 million adults (about 2.6% of the U.S. population) age 18 and older every year?
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder characterized by persistent and/or unusual mood swings that can lower an individual’s quality of life. At Olympia House, we understand that having bipolar is very difficult to handle without proper education and resources.
No matter what mental illness you or a loved one may have, we hope this list of celebrities with bipolar disorder helps showcase that you can still overcome any obstacle.
Brian Douglas Wilson
At around the age of 21, Brian Douglas Wilson, co-founder of the Beach Boys, began experiencing mental health issues. It started with hearing voices and having panic attacks that caused him to quit touring.
The musician was eventually diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder, a type of bipolar disorder. He tried out various treatment options before finding a regimen that allowed him to keep pursuing his passions. “With doctors and medications, I have been able to live a wonderful healthy, productive life,” says Brian Wilson.
Following his historic trip to the moon, American astronaut Buzz Aldrin struggled with bipolar disorder. As the pilot of the first successful moon landing, Aldrin was quickly brought to fame. The intense scrutiny of the public eye triggered his depression and alcoholism.
His personal life struggled as he went in and out of treatment working through his co-occurring disorders and later served as chairman to the National Mental Health Association.
Carrie Fisher, who made an indelible mark playing Princess Leia in “Star Wars,” struggled with drug and alcohol problems. It is difficult to diagnose bipolar in someone with substance abuse. After being a sober a year, she was diagnosed with bipolar at age 29.
Her father, Eddie Fisher, was also bipolar. The disorder can run in families.
Fisher had become outspoken about her disorder and a strong advocate for mental health. She told the Huffington Post, “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.”
Carrie Frances Fisher was an American actress, writer, and comedian. Fisher is best known for playing Princess Leia in the Star Wars films, a role for which she was nominated for four Saturn Awards.
Catherine Zeta-Jones has bipolar II disorder, a form that has more extended down periods, following a difficult time in her personal life. Zeta-Jones went through a period of mood swings following an intense period of stress when her husband, Michael Douglas, battled stage IV throat cancer. Adding to the stress was a fight with Douglas’ first wife over royalties from the actor’s movie, “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.” Stress is often a trigger for the disorder.
Zeta-Jones has been public about being bipolar and has been an advocate for de-stigmatizing mental illness, hoping she can inspire people to seek treatment.
Catherine Zeta-Jones is a Welsh actress. Born and raised in Swansea, Zeta-Jones aspired to be an actress from a young age. As a child, she played roles in the West End productions of the musicals Annie and Bugsy Malone.
After experiencing a manic episode at the age of 25, the Stranger Things actor was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The star told Marc Maron on his podcast that he believes his mental health is tied to his early preoccupation with spirituality. “I really had like, a bit of a break where I thought I was in connection to some sort of God that I wasn’t really in connection to,” Harbour, who also spent time in a mental asylum, continued. “It was like I had all the answers suddenly.”
He added: “The funny thing about my particular brain or mental illness is every time that I’ve had an episode like that, it’s always coupled with spirituality,” he said. “Generally, people are like, ‘I need to meditate more’ or ‘I need to get into yoga.’ And I need to like, eat a cheeseburger and just like, smoke cigarettes and hang out.”
David Kenneth Harbour is an American actor. He is best known for his role as Jim Hopper in the Netflix science fiction horror series Stranger Things, which has earned him a Critics’ Choice Television Award in 2018. He has also received Primetime Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations for the role.
She has chosen to use her fame to help eliminate the stigma and advocate for treatment, taking part in a campaign called “Be Vocal: Speak Up for Mental Health” in 2015.
Lovato said she wants women to know that “it’s possible to live well, feel well, and also find happiness with bipolar disorder or any other mental illness they’re struggling with.”
Demetria Devonne Lovato is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. She made her debut as a child actress on the children’s television series Barney & Friends. She rose to prominence starring as Mitchie Torres in the Disney Channel musical television film Camp Rock and its sequel Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam.
Francis Ford Coppola
In a biography of the director, Godfather: The Intimate Francis Ford Coppola: it stated that in the fall of 1977, “Coppola was diagnosed by a psychiatrist as having manic-depressive tendencies, for which lithium was prescribed.”
Francis Ford Coppola is an American film director, producer, screenwriter, film composer, and vintner where he has the Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Sonoma County. He was a central figure in the New Hollywood filmmaking movement of the 1960s and 1970s.
Francis (Frank) Albert Sinatra was an American singer, actor, and producer who was one of the most popular and influential musical artists of the 20th century.
From his start as a teen singing idol to his successful movie and stage career, Sinatra’s popularity never waned. He sold more than 150 million records, was a Las Vegas headliner, and won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in From Here to Eternity. Nevertheless, Sinatra was quoted as saying, “Being an 18-karat manic depressive and having lived a life of violent emotional contradictions, I have an over-acute capacity for sadness as well as elation.”
Jean-Claude Van Damme
Jean-Claude Van Damme, star of “Bloodsport” and “Timecop,” had four failed marriages, suffered from cocaine addiction, was arrested for drunk driving and was charged at one time with spousal abuse. He was eventually diagnosed with rapid-cycling bipolar disorder after hitting bottom.
There are several types of bipolar disorder: bipolar I, bipolar II, rapid-recycling, mixed bipolar, and cyclothymia. Common symptoms include loss of energy, problems sleeping, difficulty concentrating, and on the other side of the spectrum euphoria, needing less sleep, feeling edgy, hyper, irritable, and engaging in risky behavior.
The rock guitar legend Jimi” Hendrix got expelled from high school, once stole a car, and lasted just a year in the Army after his commanding officers suggested an early discharge. He later wrote a song called “Manic Depression,” which described his trouble with mood swings. Despite his mental health issues, Hendrix’s performances at Monterey and Woodstock still get talked about today.
James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix was an American rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter. His mainstream career lasted only four years, but is widely regarded as one of the most influential guitarists in history and one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century.
Mariah Carey says she was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2001. She went public with her diagnosis in April 2018 in an interview with People magazine, saying she now feels she’s in a good place managing her mental health.
“Until recently I lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me,” she 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.”
Mariah Carey is an American singer, songwriter, actress, record producer, and entrepreneur. Referred to as the “Songbird Supreme” by the Guinness World Records, she is noted for her five-octave vocal range, melismatic singing style, and signature use of the whistle register.
“I literally crashed, hit a wall and couldn’t get out of bed,” Russo said, after noting that she’d been “stop and go” all her life. “And I thought it was depression, but if you [have bipolar disorder and] take antidepressants, it speeds you up more.”
Addressing “all the people that are having trouble and maybe feel bad about taking medication,” she said, “It’s OK. You will make it through. It’s not easy, but you will make it through.”
Rene Marie Russo is an American actress, producer, and former model. Russo began her career as a fashion model in the 1970s, appearing on several magazine covers such as Vogue and Cosmopolitan.
The award-winning actor is vocal in how he relishes the “creative beauty” in turning his manic depression to mastery and bad situations to good. Dreyfuss says he wishes others could see the “diamond in the soil” of bipolar disorder and refers to his manic state as an “incandescent ecstasy of creation.” The movie star and ambassador for bipolar always speaks candidly about how living with the disorder has been good for him, and why stigma is “stupid.”
Richard Stephen Dreyfuss is an American actor best known for starring in popular films between the 1970s and 1990s, including American Graffiti, Jaws, Stand by Me, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, The Goodbye Girl, Stakeout, Always, What About Bob? and Mr. Holland’s Opus.
British stand-up comedian and actor Russell Brand, known for his public antics and outrageous comedy, was treated for depression when he was young. He struggled with binge-eating, unusual for boys, and while still in his teens began abusing drugs and alcohol.
Brand stopped using drugs in 2002 and in 2014 celebrated his 12th year being sober. Since dealing with substance abuse, he has acted as a sponsor for others and helped raise funds for Focus 12, a drug treatment program, in Britain.
Brand has been diagnosed with ADHD and bipolar disorder. He often references being bipolar in his performances and writing.
Russell Edward Brand is an English comedian, actor, radio host, author, and activist. After beginning his career as a stand-up comedian and later becoming an MTV presenter, Brand first achieved renown in 2004 as the host of Big Brother’s Big Mouth, a Big Brother spin-off.
Stephen John Fry, an English actor, comedian, and writer, revealed his battle with bipolar disorder in a BBC documentary titled The Secret Life of The Manic Depressive.
When diagnosed at 37, Fry had never heard the term before but found comfort in something explaining the mania and depression he experienced all his life. Since then, he has worked on bettering public awareness and giving a clearer picture of mental illness.
English rock star, Sting, has been outspoken regarding his battles with bipolar disorder. He’s also participated in events raising awareness about the disease.
Looking back at his time as frontman of the band Police, he noted, “I was suicidal. …I was manic-depressive and I just wasn’t chemically balanced enough.”
Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner CBE, known as Sting, is an English musician and actor. He was the principal songwriter, lead singer, and bassist for the new wave rock band the Police from 1977 to 1984, and launched a solo career in 1985.
The founder of Turner Broadcasting and CNN has spent much of his life battling bipolar disorder and depression. Despite that, Turner took a small independent television station in Atlanta and turned it into a global media conglomerate. At one point, he owned the Atlanta Braves and Hawks and won America’s Cup.
Robert Edward Turner III is an American media proprietor, producer, and philanthropist. As a businessman, he is known as the founder of the Cable News Network, the first 24-hour cable news channel. In addition, he founded WTBS, which pioneered the superstation concept in cable television, which later became TBS.
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, one of the great leaders of World War II, often referred to his bouts of intense, prolonged depression as his “black dog.” When not battling depression, he had incredible energy and was highly productive.
Churchill’s doctor, Lord Moran, wrote in his memoir “Winston Churchill: The Struggle for Survival” that he had diagnosed the prime minister with bipolar disorder. Despite his battles, or perhaps because of it, Churchill was a man of immense accomplishments.
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was a British politician, army officer, and writer. He was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945, when he led Britain to victory in the Second World War, and again from 1951 to 1955.