UPDATE: Celebrities, like Robin Williams, with depression and bipolar disorder

Robin WIlliams

WASHINGTON, August 13, 2014 — Robin Williams stunned the world when he was found dead from an apparent suicide. What has come out of this tragedy is that Williams, while he probably felt very much alone at the time he decided to take his life, was not.

The sheriffs coroner has provided a preliminary report stating that Williams died of asphyxia. In a statement, his publicist revealed that Williams has been struggling with severe depression lately

It has been reported through several sites that Williams suffered from bipolar disorder for years and the comedian himself was candid about his disease.

READ ALSO: Robin Williams: Depressed men more likely to commit suicide

Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder characterized by wide mood swings. A person suffering from bipolar disorder will experience the highest of highs alternating with the lowest of lows. These manic and depressive episodes can last from anywhere from a few hours up to months.

Manic episodes will consist of extreme happiness and hyperactivity. When in this state, a person will often have racing thoughts and be unable to sleep or even sit still.

During a depressive episode, a person will feel extreme sadness. They often feel helpless and hopeless. During these periods, the sufferer will not feel any pleasure from activities that they used to enjoy.

As is evident from the tragedy of Robin William’s death, bipolar disorder can seem impossible to live with and devastate a family.

READ ALSO: Shazbot Robin Williams: Because we did, in fact, love him

Many famous people are believed to have been affected by bipolar disorder; the National Institute of Mental Health reports that it affects 5.7 million American adults.

Jon Hamm of Mad Men revealed his depression after his father’s death. Owen Wilson attempted suicide in 2007, was reportedly due to depression.

Billy Joel, has battled alcoholism and described falling into a “deep mental fog” after 9/11.

Depression is so common among comedians, including Richard Pryor, Richard Jeni and Artie Lange, who all attempted suicide — with Jeni succeeding. At the Hollywood Laugh Factory depression in comedians is so common that the club has an office, with couch and therapists available to the performers.

The erratic behavior of eccentric and creative people has often been speculated to come from bipolar disorder. Although is not known if there is a higher incidence of mental illness among celebrities, a number of other well-known persons have suffered from bipolar disorder:

Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill’s family had a history of mental illness. His father displayed psychotic episodes during his life and his daughter, Diana would ultimately die of a suicide in 1963.

Churchill himself called his own depression his “black dog”.

His friend Lord Beaverbrook described what sounds like a bipolar sufferer when he said that Churchill was either “at the top of the wheel of confidence or at the bottom of an intense depression”.

Churchill’s depression has been credited with his early belief that Hitler had sinister intentions when others did not want a confrontation. Possibly only a man who had experienced such lows could see no hope in someone else.

READ ALSO:  How do I know if I have bipolar disorder?

Jim Carrey

After his break up with Jenny McCarthy in 2010, Carrey stayed up frantically posting to his twitter account until 4 a.m.

Carrey made a joke during an Oprah Winfrey interview that he only acted this way when he was on the “upside of his bipolar disorder”.

Carrey told a newspaper in an interview that his depression was the motivator for the comedies that he produces today. He took the drug Prozac to deal with his depression for some period but now claims that he has turned to faith to deal with it today.

Catherine Zeta-Jones

Zeta-Jones has been open and honest with the public about her bipolar disorder, taking some of the stigma out of the illness. She has been dealing with bipolar disorder for many years, but it came into the public eye after her husband was diagnosed with cancer.

The cancer diagnosis triggered a bipolar episode, and due to that she voluntarily checked herself into a treatment facility. She suffers from bipolar disorder II, a variant of the disorder in which the mood swings are not as severe as in other bipolar disorders.

READ ALSO:  BREAKING: Robin Williams an apparent suicide at 63

Ben Stiller

Stiller told GQ magazine,”I have not been an easygoing guy. I think it’s called bipolar manic depression. I’ve got a rich history of that in my family. I’m not proud of the fact that I lost my temper. Sometimes you just [expletive] up.”

Both of Stiller’s parents have openly spoken about their own treatment for depression, though neither has ever reported treatment for bipolar conditions.

Richard Dreyfuss

Dreyfuss first spoke publically about his bipolar disorder during the 2006 documentary, “The Secret Life of Manic Depressive.”

Since then he has been open and has freely discussed his struggles in the hope of alleviating some of the stigma associated with mental illness. He told People magazine, “There is no shame in having depression. It never should be something to hide.”

Dreyfuss realized that he was suffering from this mental illness around the age of 14, when he realized that his range of emotions was not the same as everyone else’s.

READ ALSO: Nanu-nanu Robin Williams? No more, no more Robin Williams? The passing of greatness

After his marriage ended in divorce in 1995, he realized that he needed help and sought counseling. Through talk therapy and the drug lithium, Dreyfuss found balance in his life.

Although he now takes a different drug that he chooses not to name, he says he is allowed to live his life as himself.

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