Richard G. Petty, MD

Bipolar Disorder, Insomnia and Suicide

For many years now, I have advised on the treatment of many well-known people with all sorts of problems and illnesses. I always admire people who reveal that they have suffered from a problem in the hope of helping other sufferers.

The actor Stephen Fry has recently described his struggles with bipolar disorder and why he suddenly abandoned a play in London after developing stage fright. You may have seen him playing Jeeves to Hugh Laurie’s Wooster, or in the Blackadder shows.

Stephen was once described as a man with a “Brain the size of Kent.” He said that he became so knowledgeable because of terrible insomnia, which kept him up nights: he used the time to read enormous numbers of books. He also described a suicide attempt and a very serious plan to kill himself.

Though I’ve not examined Stephen, I can now explain several things to you:
1.    Bipolar disorder is not uncommon, and is rather more common in highly creative people. That being said, we must not romanticize an illness that carries a substantial mortality. The illness is frequently misdiagnosed, and when it is, there is an ever-present risk of suicide, as well as a host of other medical problems.
2.    Anxiety disorders occur in 80-90% of people struggling with bipolar disorder, and stage fright is one of these anxiety states
3.    Stephen may not have had insomnia as much as a reduced need for sleep, which is a classic symptom of one type of bipolar disorder. People with insomnia cannot sleep and usually go through the day feeling un-rested. People with a reduced need for sleep not only stay awake, but don’t get tired until they have been up for days at a time. Doing something like reading lots of books at night is another classic symptom.

Stephen Fry has just made a documentary for the BBC in which he talks about bipolar disorder with Carrie Fisher, Richard Dreyfuss and Robbie Williams.

They all deserve our gratitude for speaking out, telling their stories, and hopefully helping alleviate some of the stigma of mental illness, and helping more people get the diagnosis and treatment that they need.

Thank you Stephen!

P.S. There has recently been a rumor going round that your humble reporter was the model for Hugh Laurie’s Golden Globe award-winning portrayal of Dr. Gregory House. I don’t know where it started, but there’s absolutely no truth in this vile calumny. I’m never irritable or curmudgeonly…

Technorati tags:

About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

logo logo logo logo logo logo