30 Famous People With Bipolar Disorder

By Sean Jackson, B.A. Psychology; B.A Social Studies Education; B.S.I.T.; M.S. Counseling; Reading level: Grade 10. Questions about psychology? Email Toni at: editor@online-psychology-degrees.org.

Chances are good that you have interacted with someone with bipolar disorder – yet you might not have known it. Though it is a severe and chronic mental illness, bipolar disorder can be treated effectively, allowing people to live their day-to-day lives more freely. This includes many well-known people in the public eye, such as athletes, actors, artists, political figures, and many more. In fact, there are likely far more famous people with bipolar disorder than you’d expect; this includes the 30 celebrities identified below.

So, why shine a light on people who we might not otherwise recognize as having bipolar disorder? There are several answers to this question.

First and foremost, each person on this list has been open about their bipolar diagnosis. The purpose of this article is not to out people with a mental illness but to celebrate those who live well with their illness. Second, each person on this list is an inspiration to those with bipolar disorder. Even through the highest of highs and lowest of lows, these celebrities have found success in their interpersonal and professional lives. And third, talking openly and honestly about mental illness helps reduce the stigma that people with mental illness often face.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is characterized by alternating states of mania and depression. During manic stages, one might feel euphoric, have racing thoughts, and feel unusually talented or powerful. But during depressive stages, the same person might feel extremely sad, slowed down, and have a lack of interest in most activities.

There are actually three distinct types of bipolar disorders:

  • Bipolar I disorder involves severe mania that lasts seven or more days and requires medical care. Depressive episodes are even longer-lasting, usually around two weeks. Sometimes, people with bipolar I disorder have manic and depressive symptoms simultaneously. In rare instances, people with this type of bipolar disorder can have four or more manic and depressive episodes in a single year, which is referred to as rapid cycling.
  • Bipolar II disorder involves a pattern of hypomanic and depressive episodes. However, hypomanic episodes are far less severe than the mania associated with bipolar I disorder.
  • Cyclothymia or cyclothymic disorder involves recurring depressive and manic symptoms that don’t last long enough or aren’t severe enough to qualify as bipolar I or II.

The above is a very simple and broad overview of bipolar disorder. The National Institute of Mental Health is an excellent resource for learning more about the symptoms of bipolar disorder, how it’s diagnosed and treated, and its risk factors.

See Also: What are the Best TV Shows About Psychology?

Musicians With Bipolar Disorder

Mariah Carey

Singer, Songwriter, Producer, and Actress

Mariah Carey was born in Huntington, New York, in 1969 and was immersed in music from the outset. Her mother, a former opera singer and vocal coach, was instrumental in inspiring a young Mariah to sing. In fact, Mariah began singing at the age of three, imitating her mother’s performance of the Italian opera Rigoletto. She explored art and music further in elementary and high school, frequently writing song lyrics as a high school student. After graduating high school in 1987, Carey began formal vocal training with her mother. Just a year later, she was being pursued by some of the top record executives in New York. By 1991, her debut album, Mariah Carey, spent 11 weeks at the top of the Billboard 200 and won multiple Grammy Awards for the record.

Today, she’s one of the top-selling female artists of all time. She holds the record for the most Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles at 19 and has five Grammy Awards, 16 Billboard Music Awards, and 10 American Music Awards. She also holds 12 Guinness World Records. 

Carey was initially diagnosed with bipolar II disorder in 2001. She kept the diagnosis a secret for many years, going public about it in 2018. She noted that the burden was too much to bear to continue keeping her diagnosis a secret, so she sought therapy, took medication, and surrounded herself with positive people. When opening up about her mental health struggles, Carey noted that she thought it was a sleep disorder. But upon further examination, her bouts of sleeplessness were mania, and her struggles with feelings of loneliness and sadness were depression. By coming forward about her diagnosis, Carey has helped fuel the conversation about mental illness and reducing stigmas while also serving as a role model for others with mental illnesses.

Demi Lovato

Singer, Songwriter, and Actress

Demi Lovato was born in 1992 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her first taste of fame came in 2002 when she starred as a regular on the hit TV show Barney & Friends.In 2008, she made her movie debut in Camp Rock and returned for its sequel, Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam, in 2010. Her debut single, This is Me, was on the original Camp Rock soundtrack, which helped launch her musical career. Her debut album, Don’t Forget, was released in 2008, followed by her sophomore album, Here We Go Again, in 2009. In the years since she’s released numerous other albums and sold more than 24 million records in the U.S. She has garnered many accolades, including several Billboard hits, a Grammy nomination, and an MTV Video Music Award. Lovato has also won two Latin American Music Awards, five People’s Choice Awards, and 14 Teen Choice Awards.

Throughout her life, Lovato has struggled with mental health issues. In addition to being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Lovato has also been diagnosed with bulimia and engaged in self-harm and self-medicating practices. Lovato has been open about her drug use, which includes alcohol, opiates, and cocaine. She has also been open about her struggles with addiction, which has included multiple relapses and several overdoses, including a near-fatal opiate overdose in 2018.

Lovato has been a staunch advocate for mental health awareness throughout her career. She has received the Artistic Award of Courage from The Jane and Terry Semel Institute for her work to reduce mental health stigma. She is well known for mentoring teens and young adults with mental health problems and has done so around the world. Lovato also founded the Lovato Treatment Scholarship Program, which helps pay for treatment costs for mentally ill patients.

Amy Winehouse

Singer and Songwriter

Amy Winehouse was born in 1983 and displayed uncanny musical talent at an early age. As a young lady, she was part of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, which helped her refine her musical abilities before signing her first record deal as a 19-year-old in 2002. Her debut album, Frank, was released in 2003 to critical acclaim. But her second album in 2006, titled Back to Black, made Winehouse a household name. Her work on Back to Black won her numerous awards, including the 2007 British Album of the Year, the British Female Solo Artist of the Year, and an Ivor Novello Award for her song, Rehab. At the 2008 Grammy Awards, Winehouse took home five trophies (tying a record at the time for the most wins by a female artist at one ceremony). That night, she won Best New Artist, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Vocal Album.

Winehouse’s life was often overshadowed by her struggles with mental illness. She spoke frequently of her bipolar disorder and also talked openly about having an eating disorder, engaging in self-injurious behaviors, and struggling with drug and alcohol use. She entered treatment multiple times, only to leave early in each instance. Her loved ones continued to plead with her to go back to treatment, which, in part, inspired her most famous song, Rehab. The singer died of alcohol poisoning in 2011. And while many experts believe she did not fully understand the severity of her mental illnesses, many also laud her for trying to correct course in rehab.

Kurt Cobain


Kurt Cobain was born in Washington State in 1967 to a family with many musicians and artists. His artistic-rich upbringing helped him develop as a young artist who enjoyed drawing, playing the piano, and singing. During his early years, he was a happy-go-lucky child, but when his parents divorced when he was nine, Cobain’s personality shifted dramatically. He became withdrawn, defiant, and lashed out at adults. Later in life, Cobain pointed to his parents’ divorce as profoundly impacting his life.

His teenage years were tumultuous, too. He bounced from one family to another, witnessed domestic violence against his mother by her boyfriend, and was kicked out of his mother’s house. He was homeless, stayed with friends, and was in and out of school and relationships. After being involved in several bands throughout the 1980s, Cobain formed Nirvana in 1987. The alt-rock nature of Nirvana’s music became wildly popular in the Seattle area, but it wasn’t until the band’s second album, Nevermind, which was released in 1991, that Nirvana’s success exploded.

Cobain was never comfortable with his fame. This, combined with his mental illness and a long history of drug and alcohol use, made life very difficult for the singer. His final years were marked by increased alcohol and drug use, perhaps as a means of attempting to cope with his bipolar disorder. He overdosed in March 1994 and entered a detox program. Just one month later, he was found dead in his garage from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Brian Wilson

Singer, Songwriter, and Producer

Brian Wilson, who was born in California in 1942, is best known as one of the founding members of The Beach Boys. He’s also an accomplished songwriter and record producer known for his incredible musical aptitude. His innovative songwriting, which often includes layered vocal tracks, complex harmonies, and unusual themes, has garnered him praise as a musical genius. He is widely considered one of the most important songwriters of the twentieth century. His most active professional time was during the 1960s. This heyday of The Beach Boys saw Wilson write songs like Good Vibrations, Help Me Rhonda, and Surf City. However, after a nervous breakdown in 1964, Wilson withdrew from performing and made fewer and fewer contributions to the band.

Wilson’s struggles with mental health are well documented. He had two more nervous breakdowns, became a heavy drug user, and in mid-1968, he was admitted to a psychiatric hospital, where he was treated for a year. His mental health continued to decline, and combined with drug use, overeating, and the death of his father several years later, he eventually became a recluse in his own home. Drugs and alcohol continued to be a problem for Wilson throughout the 1970s and 1980s, including a drug overdose in 1982 and a suicide attempt in 1985. These and many other struggles are the direct result of having bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder, and long-term substance abuse. Yet, despite these mental health issues, Wilson has continued trying to get better and move forward with his life. Though he hasn’t always been successful in that, it still serves as an inspiration to others with mental illnesses.


Singer and Songwriter

Halsey, whose real name is Ashley Nicolette Frangipane, was born in 1994 in New Jersey. She was musically gifted even as a child, playing cello, violin, and viola. At age 14, she began playing the guitar. She started her musical career at age 17 when she began posting videos of herself singing on social media platforms. Eventually, her big break came when she recorded a song with someone she called a “music guy,” which subsequently gained enough play that multiple record labels contacted her. Her debut EP came out in 2014 at the age of 20, followed by her first studio album the following year. To date, her most recognizable songs include Now or Never, Bad at Love, Closer (which she performed with The Chainsmokers), and Eastside, which was a collaboration with Benny Blanco and Khalid. Since then, Halsey has won three Billboard Music Awards, an American Music Award, and has been nominated for three Grammy Awards.

Halsey was bullied as a teenager and attempted suicide when she was 17, after which she was hospitalized for an extended period and diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She began using drugs to manage her bipolar but credits her music as a healthy means of addressing the ups and downs she experiences. Despite her success as a singer and songwriter, Halsey is perhaps equally well known for her advocacy efforts. She’s been part of suicide awareness campaigns, advocated for sexual assault victims, and is active in racial justice protests. She’s also known for her involvement in politics and her efforts to raise awareness about climate change.

Selena Gomez

Singer and Actress

Selena Gomez was born in 1992 and began her career as an actress at a very young age. Her first regular acting job was a recurring role on Barney and Friends in the early 2000s, followed by a leading role in Disney’s Wizards of Waverley Place from 2007-2012. Her first record deal came in 2008 when she was the lead singer of Selena Gomez & the Scene. Gomez wanted to be a solo artist, though, and pursued that path in 2013 with the release of her first solo album, Stars Dance. She was a prolific singer, film actress, and TV actress throughout the 2010s and has continued to do so in the 2020s. To date, she has won a Billboard Music Award, an American Music Award, and two MTV Music Awards. She’s also been nominated for two Grammy Awards, four Emmy Awards, two Golden Globes, and a Latin Grammy Award.

In amongst Gomez’s work, she is also a philanthropist supporting various causes, including mental health awareness, racial equality, LGBT rights, and gender equality. She founded the Rare Impact Fund, which seeks to raise $100 million for mental health awareness and has been a UNICEF ambassador since 2009. Her commercial success and charitable work have come amidst long-term struggles with depression and anxiety. She has discussed seeking treatment for her mental health in her early 20s and revealed in 2020 that she has bipolar disorder. She’s been in treatment in four different locations, had a psychotic episode in 2018, and spent months recovering from her psychosis. Initially, treating her bipolar disorder was difficult as the combination of medications made her feel like she wasn’t herself. Today, though, Gomez has the right combination of medications and has learned how to manage her mental illness. 

Bebe Rexha

Singer and Songwriter

Bebe Rexha grew up in Staten Island, New York, and before that, Brooklyn, where she was born in 1989. Early on, she showed an affinity for music, taking trumpet lessons as a child. She also taught herself how to play piano and guitar as a child. She was in choir in high school, and as a teenager, she won the Best Teen Songwriter award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, which garnered her attention from talent scouts. In 2013, she signed with Warner Records and, soon after that, won acclaim for her songwriting efforts on Eminem’s single The Monster. Rexha went on to write songs for other artists before releasing her debut EP, I Don’t Wanna Grow Up, in 2015. She has since released two more EPs and has done many collaborations with other artists. Her debut studio album, Expectations, was released in 2018 and garnered two Grammy nominations. She’s since released two more albums, Better Mistakes in 2021 and a self-titled album in 2023.

Rexha kept her bipolar diagnosis secret until 2019, when she spoke about it via Twitter (now X), saying, “I’m bipolar, and I’m not ashamed anymore.” Since then, she’s been extremely open about her mental health. In fact, Rexha’s song Break My Heart Myself specifically discusses her bipolar disorder, including her experience with medications. She even references the estimated percentage of Americans with bipolar – 5.7 percent. Between medication, therapy, and her creative outlet in music, Rexha says she’s much freer and more at peace – a great endorsement of the power of treatment.

Sinead O’Connor


Sinead O’Connor was an Irish singer born in 1966. She had a tumultuous childhood in which her parents divorced, her mother regularly beat her, and she regularly stole from the collection plate in church at the behest of her mother. Her troubles continued as a young woman, during which time she spent 18 months in a Magdelene Asylum after incidents of truancy and shoplifting. Though O’Connor didn’t abide well to the demands of conformity. However, in the asylum, her musical talents, including songwriting, first began to flourish. Her first studio album, The Lion and the Cobra, came out in 1987 and was followed by I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, her most commercially successful album, in 1990. She had numerous other popular songs and albums throughout the 1990s and early 2000s before focusing more on charity work.

O’Connor’s battles with mental health were a central part of who she was. She first spoke of her bipolar diagnosis in 2007, at which time she talked about the overwhelming fear associated with her illness. She also acknowledged having suicidal thoughts. O’Conner’s condition was helped by antidepressants and mood stabilizers, but her symptoms were still serious enough to lead to the cancellation of her 2012 tour. However, she continued working throughout the 2010s and published a memoir, Rememberings, in 2021, which became a best-seller. She died of natural causes at the age of 56 in 2023.

See Also: What are the Top 10 Movies About Psychology?

Actors With Bipolar Disorder

Richard Dreyfuss


Richard Dreyfuss was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1947. He began acting as a teenager after moving to the Los Angeles area. His first professional acting job was in the TV show In Mama’s House at the age of 15. As he aged, Dreyfuss explored other forms of acting, including improv, repertory theatre, Off-Broadway shows, and on Broadway itself. Later came increasingly prominent movie roles, including a supporting role in the 1973 film American Graffiti. His first starring role came in 1974 in the Canadian movie The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. Just a year later, he starred in the classic film Jaws, and two years after that, he starred in another blockbuster, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. In 1978, he won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in The Goodbye Girl. He won the Golden Globe and BAFTA awards for the same role before going on to star in countless movies and TV shows throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

Though Dreyfuss first realized he might have a mental illness when he was 14, it wasn’t until 2006, when he was nearly 60 years old, that he first talked about his disorder publicly. But while he hid his disorder for decades, he has since strived to shine a light on bipolar disorder and mental illness in general. He often speaks openly and candidly about his disorder and the associated symptoms, expressing a desire to tell his story as a means of helping to remove the stigma of mental illness. Dreyfuss specifically credits going to counseling in the 1990s as when things really took a turn for the better. He’s proof positive that with professional help, bipolar disorder can be managed effectively.

Mel Gibson

Actor & Director

Though Mel Gibson is often referred to as an Australian actor, he was born in New York in 1956. It wasn’t until he was 12 years old that his family moved to Australia, where he lived throughout his teenage and college years. After graduating from the National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney, Australia, in 1977, he began working on his most significant role yet – the titular character in the classic film Mad Max. From there, Gibson starred in two more Mad Max films and 1980s and 1990s blockbusters like the Lethal Weapon series and Braveheart. Gibson’s role has changed somewhat in the 2000s, with more producing and directing as opposed to starring film roles.

Gibson first spoke publicly about his bipolar disorder in 2008 as part of a film documentary. He has a reputation for explosive behavior in between periods of normal behavior and functioning, which could be explained in part by his mental illness. Gibson is also known to have a lifelong substance abuse problem, which is common – more than 18 percent of people with a mental illness also have a substance use disorder. However, using illicit substances as a means of coping with a mental illness only exacerbates one’s problems.

Linda Hamilton


Linda Hamilton is an American actress who was born in 1956. Her achievements on-screen are well-noted, including her most well-known role as Sarah Conner in The Terminator in 1984. In addition to appearing in two more Terminator sequels, Hamilton has appeared in dozens of movies, TV shows, and theater productions. She has been nominated for numerous Golden Globes and an Emmy and has won several other awards, including two Saturn Awards, a Romy Award, a Satellite Award, and two MTV Movie Awards.

Hamilton’s first mental health struggle was binge eating as a high schooler. Eventually, she sought treatment with a psychologist when she was 22. Hamilton entered acting because she saw it as an outlet to make her feel better. However, she had a nervous breakdown, which led to extensive drug and alcohol use. She experienced violent mood swings as part of her bipolar disorder (which was not diagnosed until 1994) and had suicidal thoughts as well. Later, Hamilton blamed the failure of both of her marriages on her poor mental health. But, like so many people with bipolar disorder and other mental health issues, Hamilton eventually got the treatment she needed and was able to manage her bipolar effectively with therapy and medication. Today, she speaks openly about her experience as a way to encourage others with mental illnesses to keep persevering and get the help they need.

Carrie Fisher


Carrie Fisher was just 21 years old when she rocketed to fame as Princess Leia in the original Star Wars, which was released in 1977. She reprised her role in the next two original Star Wars films before doing so again in 2015 in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and 2017’s The Last Jedi, released after her sudden death in 2016. Her likeness also appeared in 2019’s The Rise of Skywalker. In between her first and last Star Wars films, Fisher was active in other movies and TV shows as an actress, writer, and script doctor. She was also a prolific novelist and adapted one of her novels, Postcards from the Edge, into a one-woman play and movie. Over the years, Fisher received numerous Emmy nominations and a BAFTA award nomination. She also posthumously won a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album.

Fisher was open about her mental illness throughout her life and spoke frequently about how she had an addiction to cocaine and prescription medications. She acknowledged that her drug use was a form of self-medication to try to control her bipolar disorder and admitted that using drugs helped her feel more normal. Her drug use was consistent and relatively prolific throughout the 1970s and 1980s, culminating in an accidental overdose of sleeping pills and prescription medications in 1985. Despite her own struggles, Fisher was a strong advocate for others, including causes like animal rights, women’s rights, and LGBT rights. Her experiences with bipolar led her to join the International Bipolar Foundation as an honorary board member. Throughout her career, she made a point to speak about her bipolar disorder at events and would even stay afterward to talk to fans who also had bipolar.

Stephen Fry

Actor & Comedian

Stephen Fry was born in 1957. He is an English actor and comedian who got his start in sketch comedy in the early 1980s. He also spent a lot of time in the theatre during the 1980s, where his adaptation of Me and My Girl ran for eight years in London’s West End. The play received two Laurence Olivier Awards, and after moving to New York’s Broadway, it was nominated for a Tony Award. His first big break in show business came in 1989 as part of the comedic duo Fry & Laurie, with Hugh Laurie serving as the other half. Fry was involved in numerous TV projects and films throughout the 1990s, including a performance as Oscar Wilde, his idol, in the 1997 film Wilde, for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe. He has been an active comedian, actor, writer, and show host ever since.

Fry has battled cyclothymia for much of his life. His low point came in 1995 when he got the lead role in Cell Mates, a Simon Gray play in the West End. However, Fry left after three days, having at the time claimed it was stage fright (though later he described it as a hypomanic episode). This and other struggles led him to write and present a documentary about his mental health in 2006, Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive, for which he won an Emmy Award. The documentary also explored the experiences of other celebrities with bipolar disorder, including Carrie Fisher, Robbie Williams, Tony Slattery, and Richard Dreyfuss. Fry has been an active mental health advocate for many years, too. He is president of Mind, a mental health charity in England and Wales, and is involved with Stand to Reason, another UK-based mental health charity. 

Catherine Zeta-Jones


Catherine Zeta-Jones was born in 1969 in Wales, where she liked performing at an early age. A hyperactive child, Zeta-Jones’ parents enrolled her in a dance school. Her passion was acting, though, and she played several roles in West End productions as a child, including in Bugsy Malone and Annie. As an adult, her breakthrough role was in 1987’s 42nd Street. Her attention turned to TV and movie roles in the 1990s in Britain. And after moving to Los Angeles, she made herself a household name in the U.S. with her first major role in The Mask of Zorro in 1998. She went on to star in movies like Traffic and Chicago, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She returned to the theatre in the mid-2000s and won a Tony for her role in A Little Night Music in 2009. Since then, she’s focused mostly on smaller supporting roles in TV and movies.

Zeta-Jones has bipolar II disorder, a condition for which she was not diagnosed until the late 2010s. As a result of her diagnosis and a desire to focus on her health, she stepped back from starring roles. Her battle with bipolar disorder came to a head in 2010 when her husband, actor Michael Douglas, was diagnosed with stage four throat cancer. His diagnosis triggered a depressive period during which Zeta-Jones checked herself into a mental hospital in 2011. She entered treatment again in 2013. Her proactive approach to treating her disorder and focusing on her mental health has helped her avoid further challenges that some people with mental illness face, such as self-harm and drug abuse.

Jean-Claude Van Damme


Jean-Claude Van Damme is one of the most recognizable actors of the 1980s and 1990s. Born in 1960 in Brussels, Belgium, he became adept in martial arts at an early age. In fact, he became a 2nd-dan black belt in karate and won the European Karate Championship in 1979. However, Van Damme wanted to be an actor, so he moved to the U.S. in 1982 and got several small roles throughout the 1980s. His big break came in the 1988 martial arts film Bloodsport, followed by a slew of action movies, including CyborgDouble Impact, and Universal Soldier. His career declined in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but he found success again in the critically acclaimed TV show JCVD. He’s been in numerous films since, does extensive voice acting, and has directed multiple films as well. Though Van Damme is most famous for his action movies, he’s also a noted advocate for the environment and animal rights. 

Van Damme has struggled with the symptoms of his bipolar disorder for most of his life. When he was young, he had severe mood swings and experienced intense depression. However, he wasn’t diagnosed with a rapid-cycling form of bipolar until 1998 at the age of 38 (after multiple failed marriages, a drunk driving arrest, and cocaine addiction, among other unfavorable behaviors). At that point, he began taking medication and studied himself to learn how to deal with his symptoms more effectively. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Van Damme noted that he tried to cope with his bipolar through physical training. However, he trains and eats differently now, which seems to have helped stabilize his mood. 

David Harbour


David Harbour, who was born in 1975 in New York, is the son of real estate agents. But from an early age, he was interested in acting and attended Dartmouth College, where he majored in drama and Italian. In the mid-1990s, he focused on Shakespearian productions, appearing in Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, The Tempest, and others at The Theater in Monmouth, New Hampshire. His professional acting career began in 1999 when he appeared in the Broadway play The Rainmaker. Later, he got small roles in TV in the early 2000s before being nominated for a Tony Award for his theatrical performance in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? His biggest role to date, though, is playing Jim Hopper in Netflix’s Stranger Things. He’s been nominated for Emmy and Golden Globe Awards for his performance.

Harbour was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when he was 26. At the time, he was institutionalized to treat his disorder. Since then, he has been vocal about his mental illness and how he struggles with the traditional medical model of treating mental illness. He’s noted that what’s worked best for him is talk therapy, where he can deal with trauma on an intellectual and emotional level. Harbour has noted that this type of treatment has been far more effective for him than drugs or hospitals.

Patty Duke


Patty Duke was an American actress who rocketed to fame at a very young age. Her performance as Helen Keller in the 1962 film The Miracle Worker earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress at just 15 years of age. The following year, Duke starred in her own self-titled TV show, which ran for three seasons. Later in the 1960s, she appeared in Valley of the Dolls and Me, Natalie, the latter of which she won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Comedy or Musical. 

Duke was born in 1946 and had a tumultuous childhood. Her father was an alcoholic, and her mother suffered from clinical depression. When Duke was just eight years old, her care was turned over to her talent managers, who were exploitative of the young actress. In addition to providing her with alcohol and drugs, her managers also took high percentages of her earnings and made her take the name “Patty” in place of her given name, Anna Marie. However, her difficult childhood didn’t prevent her from having a long and illustrious career as a film and TV actress, singer, and author.

Duke was also a staunch advocate for the mentally ill. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1982, which she did not publicly reveal until 1987, when she discussed her condition in her autobiography. At the time, she was one of the first prominent public figures to speak openly about mental illness. She frequently spoke about her struggles with bipolar and anorexia and noted that she attempted suicide in 1967 and was hospitalized on numerous occasions because of her mental health. Once she began treatment (a combination of therapy and lithium), her moods stabilized, and she was able to carry on a normal life. In her later years, she lobbied the U.S. Congress for stronger support for mental health initiatives. She also worked with the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the National Institute of Mental Health to bring attention to mental health and seek funding for mental health research. Duke died in 2016 from sepsis related to a ruptured intestine. Today, the Patty Duke Mental Health Initiative carries on her advocacy work.

Vivien Leigh


Vivien Leigh was born in 1913 in British India. She began her acting career at a young age, first appearing on stage at the age of three. Eventually, she enrolled in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, though she dropped out when she married Herbert Leigh Holman, a barrister, in 1931. She had many small film roles throughout the 1930s and became well-known for her physical beauty as well as her acting abilities. The peak of her career came in 1939, when she played Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind, a role for which she won her first Academy Award for Best Actress (the second was for her role as Blanche DuBois in the film A Streetcar Named Desire in 1951). She married fellow Hollywood Legend Laurence Olivier in 1940, which further catapulted her into the limelight. Leigh went on to star in many other films and even won a Tony for her role in the Broadway musical Tovarich in 1963. Because of these and other accomplishments, she is considered one of the greatest actresses of the classic Hollywood era.

Leigh was a shining star on screen, and many never would have guessed that she struggled mightily with her mental health. However, Leigh also had tuberculosis, which not only led to her untimely death in 1967 but also made it hard on her in working environments. She suffered numerous bouts of mania and depression, nervous breakdowns, and periods of incoherence. She also experienced paranoia and exhibited angry outbursts on sets, which led others to view her as being very difficult to work with. At the time, most did not know that the root of her behavior was a debilitating mental illness.

Jenifer Lewis


Jenifer Lewis is an American actress born in the St. Louis area in 1957. As a child, she sang in the church choir, which might have led her to pursue a career on stage. She moved to New York in her 20s and got her first role in the Broadway play Eubie in 1979. She appeared in other productions throughout the 1980s, including on stage, in movies, and in an autobiographical comedy and music show off-Broadway in New York. In the 1990s, Lewis moved to Los Angeles, where she had roles in several iconic shows of the time, including Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Murphy Brown, In Living Color, and Friends. From there, Lewis went on to have roles in movies like Sister Act, What’s Love Got to Do With It, and The Preacher’s Wife. In the 2000s, she continued TV (including the hit comedy Black-ish), film, and stage work, and wrote an autobiography in 2017 entitled The Mother of Black Hollywood.

Like so many other people with bipolar disorder, Lewis’ accomplishments on stage and screen came amidst difficulties related to her mental health. She was initially diagnosed in 1990 but kept the diagnosis a secret out of shame. However, therapy and medication proved extremely helpful and allowed Lewis to embrace her mental illness. Since then, she has credited nearly 20 years in therapy with helping her lead a happier life. She’s also noted the role of working hard to manage her symptoms, which she does by checking in with her therapist, eating right, and getting exercise. 

Kim Novak


In the 1950s, there were few actresses as popular as Kim Novak. Born in 1933 in Chicago, Novak came to acting in a very unique way. During summer break from college, she traveled cross-country as a promotional model for a home freezer company at various trade shows. When the tour ended in San Fransisco, she traveled to Los Angeles with two other models to explore the film industry. After getting a few small roles in the early and mid-1950s, she signed with Columbia Pictures, which saw Novak as the next Rita Hayworth. Novak’s first film for Columbia, Pushover, was released in 1953. In 1955, she appeared in Picnic, a huge hit that garnered Novak a Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer. However, her breakout role would come three years later, in 1958, with the release of Vertigo, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, which is widely considered one of the best movies ever made. However, Novak’s film career would be short-lived. She semi-retired from acting in 1966 and has only sporadically appeared on screen since.

For many fans, Novak’s rapid withdrawal from Hollywood was puzzling. However, decades later, in an interview, Novak explained that she felt like she was never cut out for the Hollywood life and that by 1966, she was emotionally drained, which led her to leave acting. Her bipolar diagnosis didn’t occur until the early 2000s, though, and didn’t publicly reveal her diagnosis until 2012. Since then, she has been a vocal mental health advocate working to normalize bipolar disorder as just another sickness that can be treated. Novak’s treatment began with lithium, but she didn’t like the side effects and switched to antipsychotics, which have worked well for her. Something else helps her manage her bipolar symptoms – her art. Novak is known today as an accomplished painter.

Rene Russo


Rene Russo was born in Burbank, California, in 1954 and grew up as a self-described geek who was often bullied. In fact, she dropped out of high school in the tenth grade in part because of the bullying she experienced. While Russo didn’t have many ambitions growing up due to a difficult upbringing, she was eventually scouted as a model and moved to New York City to begin her modeling career. She was one of the top models in the world in the 1970s and early 1980s and appeared on the covers of numerous magazines, including Cosmopolitan, Vogue, and Mademoiselle. But, as she entered her 30s, modeling jobs were fewer and far between, so she pursued acting. After numerous small roles in the 1980s, she made her movie debut in Major League in 1989. The 1990s saw her most active period, with appearances in Lethal Weapon 3, OutbreakGet Shorty, and Lethal Weapon 4, among others. More recently, she’s played Frigga, the mother of Thor, in several Thor-related movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Russo kept her bipolar disorder a secret until 2014 when she revealed in an interview that she had the disorder. At that time, she noted that she had reached a point where she couldn’t get out of bed. Though she’d always experienced highs and lows, it had never gotten to the point of being bedridden. So, she sought treatment and reluctantly went on medication. Russo has noted in the past that her reluctance to take medication stemmed in part from feeling bad for needing medications. However, since then, she’s been known to encourage others with bipolar to get the help they need to turn their lives around.

Journalists and Authors With Bipolar Disorder

Jane Pauley

TV Host

Jane Pauley was born in 1950 in Indianapolis, Indiana. As a high schooler, Pauley found an interest in and a knack for speech and debate, winning first place in the Girls’ Extemporaneous Speaking Division. She attended Indiana University after high school, majoring in political science. She became a household name when her national TV hosting career began in 1976 after succeeding Barbara Walters as co-host of the Today show. She served in that role until 1989. In 1992, Pauley moved to Dateline NBC, where she served as anchor until 2003. After a hiatus from regular hosting duties, Pauley returned to morning TV in 2016 as the anchor of CBS Sunday Morning, a position she continues to hold as of this writing.

In 2004, Pauley published a memoir entitled Skywriting: A Life Out of the Blue. In that book, she spoke for the first time about having bipolar disorder – a condition she was not diagnosed with until age 50. In interviews since her memoir was published, Pauley has discussed the value of her medication and how she takes them each and every day. As such, she’s not had any recurrence of symptoms. Additionally, Pauley chooses not to discuss the stigma surrounding mental illness, saying that the stigma is real but that focusing on it doesn’t help mentally ill people move forward. She notes that the word “stigma” is itself a stigma, so concentrating instead on positive stories and proactive approaches to mental illness has been her focus.

Ernest Hemingway


Ernest Hemingway is one of the most famous and admired American authors of the twentieth century. In addition to publishing many novels over the course of his life, he also published non-fiction books and collections of short stories, many of which were published after his death. One of his most famous books, A Farewell to Arms, was written in 1929 and was based in large part on his experiences serving as an ambulance driver in World War I. In 1940, he wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls, a novel based on his experiences covering the Spanish Civil War as a journalist. The Old Man and the Sea, written in 1952, was his final book. The vast majority of his works were completed in the period between the mid-1920s and mid-1950s. It was during the 1950s that he won both the Pulitzer Prize (1953) and the Nobel Prize (1954).

Hemingway’s understated writing style had a profound influence on fiction writing in the twentieth century. Likewise, his adventuresome life garnered him admiration from his peers as well as admirers later in life and after his death in 1961 by suicide. Though it was poorly understood and accepted at the time, Hemingway’s choice to end his life was heavily influenced by increasing mental health issues that began in the late 1950s. Disorientation, memory problems, and paranoia began to appear. Hemingway also had bipolar disorder and clinical depression and had a long history of alcoholism. His family also has an extensive history of suicide – seven of his relatives, including his sister, brother, and father, all took their own lives.

Hemingway did seek help for his mental health struggles. He spent two months in the Mayo Clinic in late 1960 and early 1961, where he underwent electroshock treatment for clinical depression. In April 1961, his wife took him back to the Mayo Clinic after finding him menacingly holding his shotgun. While stopping in South Dakota to refuel the plane, Hemingway attempted to walk into its propellers. He was treated at the Mayo Clinic until June of 1961 when he returned home and ended his life just a few days later.

See Also: 20 Famous Schizophrenics

Politicians With Bipolar Disorder

Winston Churchill

British Prime Minister

Winston Churchill was born in 1874 to an aristocratic family. At first, he wasn’t a terribly good student but found his stride in his pre-teen years. At age 13, he entered the Harrow School and began preparing for a career in the military. He tried and failed to gain admittance to the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, but succeeded on his third try in 1893. He saw military action in multiple campaigns throughout the 1890s but left the army before the turn of the century to explore politics. Churchill served as a member of Parliament for all but two years between 1900 and 1964, including two stints as the British Prime Minister, from 1940-1945 and again from 1951 to 1955. He died in 1965 and is widely considered one of the greatest political leaders of the twentieth century.

Churchill was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when he was middle-aged, but this was not made public until his doctor, Lord Moran, acknowledged the diagnosis in his memoir, Winston Churchill: The Struggle for Survival, which was originally published one year after Churchill’s death. Lord Moran noted that Churchill exhibited the classic signs of bipolar disorder, including suicidal ideation. Churchill called his depressive periods his “black dog.” He was unable to accomplish much during these periods. However, his depression is credited with helping him develop empathy and realism, tools he was able to use to help guide the United Kingdom through two world wars.

During his manic stages, Churchill exhibited incredible drive and stamina, often working 18-hour days. During the war effort, he gave rousing speeches in Parliament and for the troops and helped keep the nation’s spirits high. He also wrote 43 books and won a Pulitzer Prize for literature in 1953. His ability to manage his depressive symptoms and utilize his manic symptoms to achieve incredible productivity is a testament to the value and worth that people with bipolar disorder give to society.

Patrick Kennedy

Former U.S. Representative

Patrick Kennedy was born in 1967 to the famed Kennedy family (his father, Ted, was a longtime U.S. lawmaker, and his uncles were President John F. Kennedy and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. Patrick was born and raised in the Boston area. In 1989, he was elected to the Rhode Island House of Representatives. He was then elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from the First Congressional District in Rhode Island. He served in that role from 1995 until 2011, when he retired.

Throughout his tenure in the U.S. House, Kennedy struggled with bipolar disorder and addiction. He tried to keep his condition a secret, though he later admitted that it was likely the worst kept secret in town. This was especially true after he crashed his car into a barricade near the U.S. Capitol in 2006, though he blamed the crash on sleeping pills. Shortly thereafter, Kennedy checked himself into the Mayo Clinic for treatment. Upon his return to Congress, many of Kennedy’s colleagues reached out with their own stories of personal struggles and mental illness. He served in the U.S. House for several more years and then embarked on a post-political career advocacy.

Kennedy has been a vocal proponent of an improved mental health care system in the U.S., using his own struggles with bipolar and addiction as proof that a more robust mental health care system is needed. He is co-founder of One Mind, which promotes the advancement of neuroscience, and The Kennedy Forum, a nonprofit behavioral health company. The Kennedy Forum seeks to, among other things, improve care for people with addictions. He’s also on the board of numerous corporations involved in addressing the opioid crisis and co-wrote a book, A Common Struggle: A Personal Journey Through the Past and Future of Mental Illness and Addiction, which explores his battles with addiction, bipolar disorder, and his continued fight to support better mental health care.

Lynn Rivers

Former U.S. Representative

Lynn Rivers is a Michigan native who was born in 1956. She attended primary and secondary school in her hometown of Au Grey before attending the University of Michigan to complete her bachelor’s degree in biological anthropology in 1987. After that, she attended Wayne State University in Detroit, where she completed her law degree in 1992. A year later, she was elected to the Michigan State House of Representatives, where she served two years until being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 until 2003.

Rivers was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when she was 21 years old. She never shied away from speaking about it. In fact, during her U.S. House campaign in 1994, she spoke about her mental health and her long struggle with bipolar. After being elected, she talked about her disorder on the House floor – the first U.S. representative to do so. She’s been candid about the process of getting her bipolar disorder under control, too. It took about a decade for doctors to figure out the right combination of medications to help stabilize her mood. Those medications, which include a mood stabilizer, an antidepressant, and an anxiolytic, have allowed her to build a career as a college professor and advocate for mental health.

Entrepreneurs With Bipolar Disorder

Ted Turner

Founder of CNN, TNT, and TBS

Ted Turner is one of the most successful American entrepreneurs of the twentieth century. He was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1938 and lived in Georgia as a child. After completing preparatory school in Chattanooga, Tennessee, he went to college at the prestigious Brown University, where he initially majored in classics, a decision that his father did not like. Turner switched majors to economics, but before graduating, he was expelled for having a girl in his dorm room. Despite not earning his degree (he received an honorary B.A. from Brown in 1989), he started a successful career in the family advertising business, which he helmed at 24 after his father’s death. Over the years, Turner built the company into a global empire. He oversaw the development of CNN, the first cable news channel, and TNT and TBS. He’s owned several sports franchises, too, including the Atlanta Braves, which won the World Series in 1995 under his ownership.

Turner has lived with bipolar disorder for decades. His father also had the disorder. Both men experienced severe depression and suicidal thoughts, with the elder Turner acting on those thoughts and taking his own life. Despite the inherent ups and downs of living with bipolar, Turner has made it look easy to build a business and amass a fortune. He’s done so in part by limiting the negative consequences of his disorder, like mood swings. But he’s also used manic periods to be innovative, forward-thinking, and a risk-taker. This, along with taking lithium to manage his bipolar symptoms, has allowed Turner to develop successful businesses over the course of many, many years. 

Andy Dunn

Co-Founder of Bonobos

Andy Dunn is a Chicago native born in 1979 who always seemed to have a knack for business. He headed to Northwestern University in the late 1990s to study economics and history and graduated with his bachelor’s degree in those fields in 2000. He then moved to the elite Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he earned a Master of Business Administration in 2007. His first foray into the business world was as a consultant for Bain & Company after college, during which time Lands’ End was one of his clients. He then worked in the private equity space before going back to school to get his MBA. Dunn’s biggest business accomplishment, though, was co-founding Bonobos, a direct-to-consumer men’s clothing brand that launched exclusively online in 2007. He served as the company’s CEO for 11 years. Bonobos was purchased by Walmart in 2017 for $310 million, after which Dunn joined Walmart as leader of its direct-to-consumer brands.

Dunn’s bipolar diagnosis was not widely known until 2022, at which point he went public with it in his autobiography Burn Rate. Dunn also began talking about his disorder in public appearances. He was first diagnosed in college after experiencing a manic episode during which he thought he was the Messiah. Other incidents, including one during which he assaulted his girlfriend and her mother, were much more severe and resulted in a weeklong stay in the Bellevue Hospital psychiatric ward and felony and misdemeanor assault charges. However, his girlfriend and her mother – who are now his wife and mother-in-law – stood beside him, understanding that his behavior was an illness and not an intentional act of assault. Today, Dunn is part of an estimated 11 percent of entrepreneurs with bipolar disorder, which is far higher than the average incidence of three percent for the population.

Paul M. English

Tech Entrepreneur & Computer Scientist

Paul M. English is an American entrepreneur born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1963. He found a passion for technology in his teenage years, first using the family’s VIC-20 computer to teach himself how to code, then on an Apple II computer he purchased with money he was paid for a video game he designed. After high school, English attended the University of Massachusetts-Boston while working part-time for his brother Ed’s company, where he added sound effects and music to video games. English stayed at UMass Boston for graduate school, where he received a Computer Science master’s degree in 1989. After that, English embarked on several business and start-up ventures, the most famous of which was Kayak, an online travel website. He served as CTO of Kayak before Priceline acquired it in 2012 for $1.8 billion. English is also known for his philanthropy, including his efforts to improve healthcare and education in Haiti.

English has experienced depression and mania throughout his life, though he wasn’t diagnosed with bipolar disorder until he was 25. At that point, he was prescribed lithium to help manage the symptoms, but he only took the medication for a short time (and off and on at that). And while he sometimes saw periods of hypomania as beneficial (he could be highly productive during those times), the bouts of depression, panic attacks, and fear that ensued certainly disrupted his life. The real changes in his condition came over many years of therapy, medication, and learning to better control his symptoms. English has also credited his friends and family, who keep a close eye on him. To help others with bipolar, English founded the Bipolar Social Club, an online community where people with bipolar disorder can provide support to one another. 

See Also: 5 Conditions Helped By Cognitive Behavioral Therapy