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New Hollywood Trend: Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder or manic depression is a serious mental illness that affects millions of people – supposedly 5.7 million Americans live with this potential deadly disease, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.  But just like the way drug/alcohol addiction is real problem for regular people but in Hollywood addiction and rehab have become almost required like a union card, bipolar disorder is becoming the flavor of the month. 

This week, teen star Demi Lovato revealed she suffers from bipolar disorder.  Last week, the actress Catherine Zeta-Jones announced she gets treatment for the condition. 

“I was actually manic a lot of the times that I would take on workloads, and I would say, ‘Yes, I can do this, I can do this, I can do this,’” Lovato told ABC’s ’20/20′ in an interview airing tonight.  “I was conquering the world, but then I would come crashing down, and I would be more depressed than ever.” 

“There is no need to suffer silently, and there is no shame in seeking help,” Zeta-Jones said in an interview for the latest issue of People magazine. “If my revelation of having bipolar II has encouraged one person to seek help, then it is worth it.” 

Even Charlie Sheen – who dubbed himself “bi-winning,” not bipolar, during his recent media spree kindly organized a walk for bipolar awareness.

Last Friday, Kaj Korvela, executive director of Canada’s Organization for Bipolar Affective Disorders (OBAD), was stunned when Sheen suddenly organized a walk to benefit his two-person non-profit. Via Twitter, Sheen, who was in Toronto for his “My Violent Torpedo of Truth” tour, asked fans to walk 1.2 miles with him from his hotel to Massey Hall to “Stop the Stigma!!” He promised to match their donations.

Korvela said neither Sheen nor anyone who works with the former “Two and a Half Men” star contacted him prior to the announcement.   Post-walk, Korvela waited four days before getting confirmation from a representative of Sheen’s that the actor would match donations made in cash and online, amounting to a total of $6,000 for OBAD.

“I think it’s a good thing,” Korvela told “In reality, I’m happy we got the money.”   ‘I’m Bipolar’ is becoming the most popular phrase in Hollywood these days but it is no newcomer.  The disease has had many celebs in its clammy grip – Carrie Fisher, Hayley Mills, Mel Gibson, and Richard Dreyfuss are just a sample of the stars who claim to suffer from the disorder.  Gibson, for example said in a 2008 documentary that he’s weathered “some very low lows.”

“There is such a thing as artistic temperament, and it is related to bipolar disorder,” Dr. Igor Galynker, director of New York City’s Family Center for Bipolar Disorder, told  “When people are on the manic side, they can be very creative, productive, sparkling, the center of attention and a lot of celebrities have that.  But the reverse is they are difficult, irritable, they make bad decisions.”

Galynker gave Hollywood credit for raising the profile of the disease.  “Bipolar disorder and specifically bipolar II disorder is becoming an almost fashionable diagnosis, and that is not a bad thing at all,” he said. “You cannot treat bipolar disorder unless you diagnose it, and you cannot diagnose it unless people know about it.”

As Hollywood decides that it is bipolar, everyone will know about it.  



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