carrie fisher
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Carrie Fisher

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. 

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mel gibson
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Mel Gibson

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. 

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demi lovato
3 / 17

Demi Lovato

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. 

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russell brand
4 / 17

Russell Brand

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. 

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brian wilson
5 / 17

Brian Wilson

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. 

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kurt cobain
6 / 17

Kurt Cobain

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. 

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jimi hendrix
7 / 17

Jimi Hendrix

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. 

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ernest hemingway
8 / 17

Ernest Hemingway

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. 

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ted turner
9 / 17

Ted Turner

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. 

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catherine zeta jones
10 / 17

Catherine Zeta-Jones

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.  

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vivian leigh
11 / 17

Vivien Leigh

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. 

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frank sinatra
12 / 17

Frank Sinatra

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.  

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sinead o'connor
13 / 17

Sinead O’Connor

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. 

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jean-claude van damme
14 / 17

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. 

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jane pauley
15 / 17

Jane Pauley

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. 

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patty duke
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Patty Duke

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 got 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. 

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winston churchill
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Winston Churchill

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. 

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 10/20/2017 Reviewed by Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH on October 20, 2017

IMAGES PROVIDED BY:

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SOURCES:

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."

Reviewed by Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH on October 20, 2017

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.