Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder causing unusual shifts in mood and activity levels, often manifesting in college age people, with almost half of all cases developing before age 25. People with bipolar disorder experience very intense emotional states. The very excited state is called a manic episode, and the extremely sad state is called a depressive episode. There is typically an extreme change in energy, activity and behavior that goes with each of these episodes. If not controlled it can cause shifts in mood so severe that it can stop individuals from participating in their normal activities. But several famous individuals have been able to live a successful, normal life:
- Demi Lovato, actress and singer-songwriter: While she may just be in her early 20s, Lovato seems to be wise beyond her years. Struggling with bipolar and depression beginning at a very young age, Lovato says she now feels more in control.
- Richard Dreyfuss, actor: Now in his 60s, the Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind actor initially discussed his struggle in the 2006 documentary The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive. Since the film debuted Dreyfuss has been giving talks about his personal struggles in an effort to educate others.
- Pete Wentz, musician: He battled severe manic depression, almost taking his life in 2005. However, he was able to look forward and he eventually released some very successful albums with Fall Out Boy.
- Dick Cavett, journalist and television personality: Cavett began struggling with depression during his freshman year at Yale. He received treatment but later began struggling with manic episodes as well. He has been very upfront about his illness, even being interviewed at a symposium and taking questions from the audience, which was released on video in 1993 as A Patient’s Perspective.
- Stephen Fry, actor, writer, director: It’s amazing what Fry has accomplished despite the effects of bipolar disorder. He’s able to use both the depression and the energy to stir up amazing creativity in all areas of his life.
- Patrick Kennedy, former U.S. Representative: Being a Kennedy isn’t easy. During his younger years he struggled to maintain sobriety, spending a lot of time in rehab. In recent years he has been very candid about his struggles with bipolar disorder.
There is no cure for bipolar disorder, but with the proper treatments individuals can gain control. Long-term treatment involving medication and psychotherapy have been proven to help. This illness doesn’t have to mean the end of opportunities; rather it is the beginning of new ones.