Many famous people have suffered from depression. History shows that brilliance often goes hand in hand with mental illness. During the last millennium, thousands of our heroes endured ineffective therapies and dodged social stigma by keeping mental maladies--from manic depression to multiple personalities to schizophrenia--out of the public eye.
Famous writers are particularly prone to the problem (72%), but others also suffer high rates of depression (artists 42%; politicians, 41%; intellectuals 36%, composers 35%, scientists 33%).
Famous People Who Have Suffered from Depression and Mental Illnesses
- Roseanne Barr, actress
- John Nash - Mathematician / Nobel Prize Winner
- King George III of England
- Lionel Aldridge:
A defensive end for Vince Lombardi's legendary Green Bay Packers of the 1960's, Aldridge played in two Super Bowls. In the 1970's, he suffered from schizophrenia and was homeless for two years. He now gives inspirational talks on his battle against paranoid schizophrenia. His story has been told in numerous newspaper articles, copies of which are available from the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill.
- Vivien Leigh:
The actress who starred in" Gone With The Wind" suffered from mental illness, as documented in Vivien Leigh by Anne Edwards.
- Charles Dickens:
One of the greatest authors in the English language suffered from depression, as documented in Key To Genius by Hersham and Lieb, and Charles Dickens, Vols. I and II by Edgar Johnson.
- Leo Tolstoy:
Author of War and Peace, one of the world's greatest novels, Tolstoy told of his own mental illness in My Confession. It is also discussed in Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr and Inner World of Madness by Beet Kaplan.
- Ernest Hemingway, Writer
The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist's suicidal depression is examined in the True Gen: An Intimate Portrait of Ernest Hemingway by Those Who Knew Him by Denis Brian.
- John Keats, Poet
The renowned poet's mental illness is documented in The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr and The Broken Brain: The biological Revolution in Psychiatry by Nancy Andreasen, M.D.
- Gaetano Donizetti, Singer
The famous opera singer suffered from bipolar disorder, as documented in Donizetti and the World Opera in Italy, Paris and Vienna in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century by Herbert Weinstock.
- Abraham Lincoln:
The 16th president, one of the greatest Americans, suffered from severe, incapacitating and occasionally suicidal depressions, documented in six biographical volumes by Carl Sandburg, and in numerous articles, including, "Dark Veil of Depression" by Judy Folkenburg, National Institute of Mental Health, published in The Consumer.
- Patty Duke:
The Academy Award-winning actress told of her bipolar disorder in her autobiography and made-for-TV move Call Me Anna and A Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic-Depressive Illness, co-authored by Gloria Hochman.
- Richard Nixon, U.S. president
- Murray Pezim, Canadian businessman
- Napoleon Bonaparte, emperor
- Gerard M. Hopkins, poet
- Victor Hugo, author
- William James, writer
- Bev Aisbett - Author of "Taming The Black Dog" and other well known books
- John McGrath - Chair, Mental Health Council of Australia
- Neil Cole - Victorian Politician and Playwright
- Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) - soldier, statesman and Lord Protector of England (1652-1658) after he declined the crown after Charles I was beheaded in 1649 during the Civil War.
Sometimes crying or laughing
are the only options left,
and laughing feels better right now.
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