Medically Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD on May 16, 2021
The chart-topping singer was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2001, but she told People magazine she “lived in denial and isolation” for years. She said she finally sought treatment after a series of professional and romantic issues. “I put positive people around me, and I got back to doing what I love -- writing songs and making music.”
Known for her role as Princess Leia in the Star Wars movie franchise, Fisher got diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 24. She wrote her 1987 novel, Postcards From The Edge, in rehab after a near-fatal drug overdose. On stage and in interviews, Fisher called for more attention and research on the condition. She died of a heart attack in 2016.
The singer, who was nominated for a Grammy with Florida Georgia Line for "Meant to Be" and co-wrote Eminem's "The Monster," opened up about her diagnosis via Twitter. She posted, "I'm bipolar and I'm not ashamed anymore." Rexha went on to say how much she's looking forward to her next project: "This next album will be favorite album ever because I'm not holding anything back."
In a 2008 documentary, Gibson said he had bipolar disorder. The actor burst onto the scene as an action hero, then branched out into producing and directing, earning two Academy Award nominations. People magazine named Gibson the “sexiest man alive” in 1985. His personal life made headlines when he berated a police officer during a drunken driving arrest in 2006 and pleaded no contest to domestic abuse charges in 2012.
This singer and actress starred in the Disney Channel movie Camp Rock. After the sequel, and a role in the TV series Sonny With A Chance, Lovato admitted herself into a clinic for addiction and self-harm in 2010. It was there she learned she had bipolar disorder. MTV aired a documentary about Lovato’s struggles with it in 2012.
He went from stand-up comedy, to MTV, to roles in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Despicable Me. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder as a youth, Brand lost jobs with both MTV and the BBC for controversial remarks. His marriage to Katy Perry lasted less than 2 years. Brand published his first autobiography in 2007 and detailed his struggles with drug abuse in Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions in 2017.
The leader of the California surfing sound, Wilson wrote and produced nine albums and 16 hit singles in a 3-year span with the Beach Boys. A panic attack on an airplane in 1964 led him to stop touring. A year later, Wilson began experimenting with LSD. His bipolar disorder, which he'd learn about years later, left him physically and emotionally unable to compose or tour for decades.
The co-founder of Nirvana had attention deficit disorder as a child, then bipolar disorder later. He didn’t pursue treatment. Despite success as the leader of Seattle’s grunge rock movement, Cobain struggled with depression and committed suicide at age 27 in 1994.
The rock guitar legend 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. He died at age 27 in 1970.
This Nobel Prize-winning author was prone to manic-depressive behavior throughout his life, a family trait shared by his parents, his son, and his granddaughter Margaux. Despite his larger-than-life personality and novels like A Farewell to Arms and For Whom The Bell Tolls, Hemingway had bouts of depression and paranoia. Obsessed with death, he eventually shot himself in the head in 1961.
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 the America’s Cup.
This Welsh-born star won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in Chicago and a Tony Award for her onstage work. She's also been nominated for several Golden Globes. Married to Michael Douglas since 2000, stress during his battle with tongue cancer led to depression and a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.
Born Vivian Mary Hartley in England, Leigh’s greatest fame came from her iconic portrayal of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind.
The wife of acclaimed actor Laurence Olivier, Leigh had a reputation for being difficult on the set. For much of her adult life, she had severe depression and mania. Her treatment was electroshock therapy.
From his start as a teen signing 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. Behind the scenes, Sinatra’s volatile temper was legendary, as was his charity.
This Irish-born singer and songwriter burst onto the music scene in 1990 with the hit single Nothing Compares 2 U. A performance on Saturday Night Live in 1992 during which she tore up a picture of the pope resulted in widespread criticism. She disclosed that she had bipolar disorder in 2007. Ten years later, she shared a video detailing her struggles with mental illness.
Jean-Claude Van Damme
Van Damme, a Belgian-born martial arts action film star, started studying karate at 10 and earned his black belt 8 years later. His breakthrough film was 1988’s Bloodsport. Ten years after that, he found out he had bipolar disorder. In 2011, Van Damme said he took medication for mood swings that he says he had since childhood.
Pauley, a TV anchor and journalist, has been in the spotlight since she replaced Barbara Walters on NBC’s Today show in 1976. She also co-hosted the evening news, and then co-anchored Dateline NBC, for a decade beginning in 1992. These days, she's the anchor of the CBS show Sunday Morning. It wasn’t until the release of her autobiography in 2004 that Pauley revealed her struggles with bipolar disorder.
An Academy Award winner for her portrayal of Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker, and a television star for playing identical cousins in The Patty Duke Show, Duke was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1982. From that point on, she spent much of her life educating the public on mental health issues. She lobbied Congress for funding and research and wrote two autobiographies about her illness. She died in 2016 from sepsis at 69.
As first lord of the admiralty at the start of World War I and British prime minister in World War II, Churchill rallied people with stirring speeches and radio broadcasts to encourage resistance against Germany. However, he battled his own war against depression, suicidal thoughts, and lack of sleep. He called it his “black dog.” Despite his condition, he authored 43 books and earned a Nobel Prize in Literature. He died in 1965 at 90.
IMAGES PROVIDED BY:
People: “Mariah Carey: My Battle With Bipolar Disorder.”
The New York Times: "Carrie Fisher Put Pen and Voice in Service of 'Bipolar Pride.' "
Psychological Care & Healing Center: "Is Mel Gibson’s Latest Outburst Related to Bipolar Disorder?"
Treatment Advocacy Center: "Demi Lovato: Bipolar But Staying Strong."
The Guardian: "This charming man," "The astonishing genius of Brian Wilson"
CBSNews.com: "Famous people with bipolar disorder."
MyFiveBest.com: "Five Musicians Who Suffered From Bipolar Disorder."
The Independent: "Being Ernest: John Walsh unravels the mystery behind Hemingway's suicide."
Famous Bipolar People: "Ted Turner -- Famous Bipolar Entrepreneur."
ABC News: "Catherine Zeta-Jones Sheds Light on Bipolar II Disorder."
The New Yorker: "Frank Sinatra and the Scandalous but Scholarly Biography."
Today.com: "Sinead O'Connor opens up about mental illness struggle in emotional video."
How I Beat Depression: "How Jean Claude Van Damme Beats Bipolar."
NBCNews.com: "Jane Pauley shares her story."
Bipolar Lives: "Patty Duke bipolar disorder."
International Bipolar Foundation: "Winston Churchill and Mental Illness."