Famous People With Mood Disorders

Despite the fact that we now know that depression is a brain disorder, many people still believe that depression is the result of a weak will or a deficit in one’s character. Nothing could be further from the truth. Some of our greatest leaders such as Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Teddy Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt have suffered from lifelong depression. These examples demonstrate that a person can suffer from depression and make a contribution to family, friends and society.

Below is a list of famous people with mood disorders who have enriched our lives with their writing, art, acting and other societal contributions.


Honore de Balzac
James Barrie (author of Peter Pan)
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Maxim Gorky
Kenneth Graham
Graham Greene
Ernest Hemingway
Hermann Hesse
Victor Hugo
Henrik Ibsen
Henry James
William James
Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)
Joseph Conrad
Charles Dickens
Isak Dinesen
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Herman Melville
Eugene O’Neill
Boris Pasternak
Mary Shelley
Robert Louis Stevenson
August Strindberg
Leo Tolstoy
Tennessee Williams
Virginia Woolf
Emile Zola


Charles Baudelaire
William Blake
Robert Burns
George Gordon, Lord Byron
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
William Cowper
Hart Crane
Emily Dickinson
T.S. Eliot
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Samuel Johnson
John Keats – More
Robert Lowell
Edna St. Vincent Millay
Sylvia Plath
Edgar Allan Poe
Ezra Pound
Alexander Pushkin
Theodore Roethke
Anne Sexton
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Dylan Thomas
Walt Whitman


Paul Gauguin
Vincent van Gogh
Ernst Josephson
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Michelangelo Buonarroti
Adolphe Monticelli
Edvard Munch
Georgia O’Keeffe
Raphaelle Peal
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Mark Rothko

Classical Composers and Musicians

Hector Berlioz
Anton Bruckner
Edward Elgar
Carlo Gesualdo
George Frederic Handel
Gustav Holst
Charles Ives
Gustav Mahler
Modest Mussorgsky
Sergey Rachmaninoff
Giocchino Rossini
Robert Schumann
Alexander Scriagbin
Peter Tchaikovsky

Non-classical composers and musicians

Lionel Aldridge
Irving Berlin
Ray Charles
Kurt Cobain, (Nirvana)
Leonard Cohen
John Coltrane
John Denver
Stephen Foster
Charles Mingus
Charles Parker
Cole Porter
Elliot Smith

Political Leaders

Winston Churchill
Thomas Eagelton
Abraham Lincoln
Teddy Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt

Modern Figures with Bipolar Disorder

Robert Boorstin, writer, special assistant to Pres. Clinton
Rosemary Clooney, singer
Dick Cavett, writer, media personality
Kitty Dukakis, former First Lady of Massachusetts
Patty Duke (Anna Pearce), actor, writer
Connie Francis, actor, musician
Peter Gabriel, musician
Spike Mulligan, comic actor and writer
Charley Pride, musician
Ted Turner, entrepreneur, founder of CNN
Jonathon Winters, comedian, actor, writer, artist

Modern Figures with Depression

Buzz Aldrin, astronaut
Art Buchwald, writer
Barbara Bush, former First Lady (U.S.)
Ray Charles, musician
Eric Clapton, musician
Dick Clark, television personality (American Bandstand)
Francis Ford Coppola, director
Michael Crichton, writer
Lady Diana, Princess of Wales
Richard Dreyfuss, actor
Kathy Kronkite, writer (daughter of Walter Kronkite)
Sheryl Crow, musician
Mike Douglas, media personality
Tony Dow, actor, director
Thomas Eagleton, former politician; professor
James Farmer, civil rights activist (1960s to present)
Jules Feiffer, playwright, screenwriter, cartoonist
Carrie Fisher
John Kenneth Galbraith, economist, educator, author
Spalding Gray (monologist)
Stephen Hawking, physicist
Anthony Hopkins, actor
Salvador Luria, scientist (bacterial genetics), Nobel Laureate
Robert McFarlane, former National Security Advisor (U.S.)
Sarah McLachlan, musician
Bonnie Raitt, musician
Joan Rivers, comedienne, talk show host
Roseanne, actor, writer, comedienne
Linda Sexton, writer (daughter of Anne Sexton)
Rod Steiger, actor
William Styron, writer
Kate Taylor, musician
James Taylor, musician
Livingston Taylor, musician
Mike Wallace, news anchor

Much of this information came from the book Touched With Fire; Manic-Depressive Ilness and the Artistic Temperament, by Kay Jamison.

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