25 Historical Figures With Mental Illnesses
Health and Wellness

25 Historical Figures With Mental Illnesses

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This past week, October 4 – October 10, 2015, was Mental Health Awareness week. The theme for this year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), was #IAmStigmaFree. The Merriam-Webster definition of stigma is “a set of negative and often unfair beliefs that a society or group of people have about something; a mark of shame of discredit.”

To hopefully help reduce some of the stigma that surrounds mental illness, I thought I would compile a list of well-known people over time who have suffered or are still suffering from a mental illness.

1. Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

Da Vinci was known to have kept complicated journals where he wrote upside-down and backwards. He also had dyslexia.

2. Michelangelo (1475-1564)


Known for his incredible art, Michelangelo also suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

3. Isaac Newton (1643-1727)

The scientist who explained gravity and had the Laws of Motion named after himself, Isaac Newton was known to have suffered from bipolar disorder and possible depression.

4. Beethoven (1770-1827)

While Beethoven is well-known for being a deaf composer and coming up with masterpieces such as Fur Elise, he also suffered from bipolar disorder and depression.

5. Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)


Though this is no surprise, the father of the American short-story suffered from depression and alcoholism.

6. Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

The 16th president of the United States suffered from depression and anxiety attacks.

7. Charles Darwin (1809-1882)

The creator of the Theory of Evolution suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

8. Mary Todd Lincoln (1818-1882)

The wife of Abraham Lincoln suffered from schizophrenia.

9. Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931)


The inventor of the light bulb suffered from dyslexia.

10. Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)

The creator of "Starry Night" suffered from bipolar disorder and depression.

11. Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

The former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom suffered from bipolar disorder and dyslexia.

12. Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

The creator of the theory of relativity suffered from dyslexia.

13. Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

This famous artist suffered from depression.

14. Walt Disney (1901-1966)

The man behind Mickey Mouse suffered from dyslexia.

15. Buzz Aldrin (1930- )


This astronaut, the second person to walk on the moon, suffers from depression.

16. Elton John (1947- )


This musician who wrote the song "Can You Feel The Love Tonight," suffered from bulimia.

17. Ozzy Osbourne (1948- )


This musician, known as The Prince of Darkness, suffers from bipolar disorder.

20. Robin Williams (1951-2014)


Loved by many, this actor and comedian lost his battle to depression in 2014.

19. Stephen Fry (1957- )


This actor and comedian suffers from bipolar disorder.

20. Princess Diana of Wales (1961-1997)

The late princess suffered from bulimia and depression.

21. Jim Carrey (1962- )


This actor and comedian suffers from depression.

22. Ben Stiller (1965- )


This actor and comedian suffers from bipolar disorder.

23. Kurt Cobain (1967-1994)


Founder and lead singer of the grunge-rock band Nirvana, Cobain suffered from ADD and bipolar disorder.

24. Leonardo DiCaprio (1974- )


This actor suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

25. Heath Ledger (1979-2008)


This Australian-born actor known for his amazing performance as The Joker in "Batman: The Dark Knight," suffered from insomnia, anxiety, and depression.


Every one in five people have a mental illness of some kind. These 25 people are only a tiny fraction of those who have some kind of mental illness in the "famous" or "well-known" spectrum. There are even more of those who have it in our day to day lives.

To learn more about mental health, visit https://www.nami.org/.

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