Mariah Carey, one of the most accomplished singers in the world, revealed to People this week that she has bipolar disorder. It’s the first time she has opened up about her struggle with the condition.
Carey says she was first diagnosed with bipolar II disorder in 2001, the same year she released “Loverboy,” but only recently sought treatment for it. “I didn’t want to believe it,” she told People‘s editor-in-chief Jess Cagle. She added that she had spent years denying her diagnosis, and that she had been in “constant fear” that someone would find out about her condition.
The singer has had a history of public mental struggles; in fact, in 2001, the same year she says she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, she made headlines when she was admitted under psychiatric care, citing “emotional and physical breakdown.” In 2017, she opened up about her low self-esteem and insecurity, which she says go way back from when she was a child growing up biracial.
Like Carey, 5.7 million other Americans, roughly 2.8 percent of the entire adult U.S. population, suffer from bipolar disorder. Of those afflicted, 83 percent are seriously impaired by it, the highest rate of severe impairment among all mood disorders.
Bipolar II disorder, also known as BP-II, is characterized by episodes of depression and hypomania, which are brief experiences of euphoria, as well as feelings of irritability and hypersexuality, that are less severe than mania. Those with bipolar I, on the other hand, experience a more pronounced, “full-blown mania,” according to Michael Gitlin, professor of clinical psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, in a report by Vice. “[People with bipolar I have] done damage to their life because of the mania: getting arrested, getting fired, ruining a long-term relationship, pissing away life savings, getting hospitalized, being psychotic. Any one of those will make you manic, not hypomanic.”
Bipolar disorder is exceptionally difficult to diagnose, compared with other mental conditions. Firstly, bipolar disorder share too many symptoms with other psychological conditions, which could potentially result to misdiagnosis. Those with bipolar disorder whose bouts with depression are more visible risk only being diagnosed with major depressive disorder, while others with more apparent experiences with mania or hypomania could be given an initial diagnosis of ADHD.
Mariah Carey says she has been going to therapy and taking medication to address her condition. Bipolar disorder is typically treated with a combination of different medications, such as mood stabilizers and anxiolytics, depending on the symptoms exhibited by the individual. Bipolar-disorder-specific psychotherapies have also been shown to benefit those who are taking medication for it, according to a 2014 study.