Celebrities with Bipolar Disorder

People Who Have Lived with Manic Depression

Celebrities With Bipolar
What celebrities have lived with bipolar disorder?. Getty Images - Stone - Peter Dazeley

In recent years, many celebrities have talked openly about their bipolar disorder. In contrast, some people in the past have likely suffered from bipolar disorder (or the previous medical name of manic depression) based on some of their behaviors. This isn't surprising, as researchers have struggled to identify why the incidence of bipolar disorder seems to be high among creative individuals.

When thinking about these people, however, it's important to keep in mind the process of diagnosis.

Some people have "self-diagnosed" themselves with the disorder, and even among physicians, behaviors that are considered to meet the criteria for diagnosis can vary considerably. That said, taking a look at celebrities who may have had the disorder can hopefully help reduce the stigma of this disease. Many people have found excellent ways to cope with the disorder and go on to lead very successful and meaningful lives. That thought alone, and the empowerment it can bring, is worth the risk of not knowing for certain, in some cases, if everyone who claims to have bipolar disorder, or has been diagnosed with the condition, actually has the disorder as defined today.

Let's take a look at a list of some people with bipolar disorder, and then learn more about how some of these people have lived and coped with the disorder.

Celebrities With Bipolar Disorder

A quick list of some people who have lived with bipolar disorder can be made based on birthday months.

Check out what we know in more detail following this list.


• Virginia Woolf - novelist - January 25, 1882


• Axl Rose - rock singer - February 6, 1962


• Maurice Benard - actor - March 1, 1963
• Robert Lowell - poet - March 1, 1917
• Charley Pride - country-western singer - March 18, 1938


• Rosemary Clooney - singer - May 23, 1928


• Mariette Hartley - actress - advocate - June 21, 1940


• Linda Hamilton - actress - September 26, 1956


• Sting - musician, actor - October 2, 1951
• Margot Kidder - actress - October 17, 1948
• Jean-Claude Van Damme - actor - October 18, 1960
• Jeannie C. Riley - country-western singer - October 19, 1945
• Carrie Fisher - actress/writer - October 21, 1956
• Sylvia Plath - poet/author - October 27, 1932


• Larry Flynt - publisher, activist - November 1, 1942
• Vivien Leigh - actress - November 5, 1913
• Jonathan Winters - comedian, actor - November 11, 1925
• Burgess Meredith - actor - November 16, 1907
• Dick Cavett - actor, author, host - November 19, 1936
• Ben Stiller - actor, director, writer, comedian - November 30, 1965


• Connie Francis - singer, actress - December 12, 1938
• Patty Duke - actress - December 14, 1946
• Earl Simmons/DMX - rapper & actor - December 18, 1970

More: The list goes on from recent testimonies of Britney Spears and Robin Williams, to historical figures such as Florence Nightingale and Edgar Allen Poe.

People with Bipolar Disorder in More Depth

Learning more about the celebrities who have lived with bipolar disorder helps us see how some people have coped with the day to day challenges of living with the disorder. Here's a briefing of some of these people, with links for those who long to learn more.

Axl Rose - Misdiagnosed with Bipolar Disorder?

Heavy metal singer Axl Rose claims he was diagnosed as "manic depressive" but has called that diagnosis into question. Certainly his life is witness to some of the behaviors that fit with bipolar disorder, such as explosive anger. His story emphasizes the importance of looking at each individual separately. It also highlights the stigma of the disorder. Do we sometimes dismiss symptoms as due to a disorder, rather than looking for the roots and dealing with the symptom itself?

Charley Pride - Bipolar Disorder and Racial Discrimination

Country Western singer Charley Pride has openly talked about his bipolar disorder. In addition to the challenges of living with bipolar disorder, Pride faced coming out as a country western singer in a musical niche which had been dominated by white men. His success in the musical industry is legendary, but he humbly speaks of his challenges with bipolar. Thankfully, he found lithium to be very effective in controlling his symptoms, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Rosemary Clooney - Singing Career Interrupted by Bipolar Disorder

Gifted singer Rosemary Clooney wrote about her struggles with bipolar disorder in her autobiography. Following a difficult childhood, she rose to fame until a fate full public moment. Having witnessed her friend Kennedy's assassination, she had a very public manic episode on stage. Despite hospitalization and any years of intensive therapy, her career was reborn in a benefit with Bing Crosby in 1976.

Carrie Fisher - Star Wars and Bipolar

Actress and writer Carrie Fisher, known and loved as Princess Leia in Star Wars, has openly shared her struggles with bipolar disorder. In a positive angle, she attributes asking for, and receiving help, for chemical dependency as the way in which she came recognize the disorder early and get help. According to her mother, Debbie Reynolds, there is a genetic link to her bipolar disorder. Whether or not this is the case, Carrie Fisher has not only shown us that people can overcome the challenges of bipolar disorder, but can thrive despite the disorder.

Jean Claude Van Damme - Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder

Belgian-born actor Jean Claude Van Damme also faced chemical dependency amidst his struggle with bipolar disorder. Early in life he found that intense training allowed him to overcome and cope with the symptoms of the disorder. Later on, he was diagnosed with rapid cycling bipolar disorder for which he was treated, successfully it appears, with Depakote (sodium valproate). Due to the sodium in the compound, he coined it "the simple salt" which took the figurative water moving all around him, and turned it into a lake.

Patty Duke - Bipolar Diagnosis a Relief

Actress Patty Duke carries a history all too common among those with bipolar disorder. A difficult childhood followed by later challenges with drug addiction, alcoholism, and anorexia. To Patty Duke, the diagnosis of bipolar disorder (or rather manic depression) came as a relief, and there are likely many people who understand those words. She found that treatment of the disorder with lithium was a lifesaver, and actually referred to the medication as her savior.

Burgess Meredith - Cyclothymia

For some people, symptoms don't quite meet the criteria for bipolar disorder, but yet are severe enough to disrupt their lives. Actor Burgess Meredith is one of the people. Similar to the challenges faced by many people with bipolar disorder, it wasn't until his diagnosis of cyclothymia that some things made sense. Cyclothymia is referred to by some as bipolar III disorder,

Current Celebrities with Bipolar Disorder

From Ted Turner to Jane Pauley, check out these other current celebrities with bipolar disorder and how they have succeeded and overcome, despite the diagnosis.


Taylor, K., Fletcher, I., and F. Lobban. Exploring the Links Between the Phenomenology of Creativity and Bipolar Disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2015. 174:658-64.

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