Robert Downey Jr health latest: Actor’s bipolar disorder revealed by family member


Robert Downey Jr experienced a long cycle of drug and alcohol abuse in the past. But with the help of his wife, his family, therapy, yoga, and the practice of Wing Chun kung fu, the star has now been able to make his sobriety stick.

In December 2000, in an article for People magazine, Robert’s stepmother Rosemary told author Alex Tresnlowski the actor had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder “a few years ago”, and added the condition was “the reason he has a hard time staying sober”.

She said: “He’s gotten no help for that,” adding, “It’s the reason he has a hard time staying sober.”

So what is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that affects a person’s mood, according to the NHS.

A person’s mood can swing from one extreme to another.

READ MORE: Freddie Flintoff health: ‘I knew that something wasn’t right’ Cricketer’s health battle

Symptoms of the condition are listed as:

  • Depression – feeling very low and lethargic
  • Mania – feeling very high and overactive

The health body adds: “Symptoms of bipolar disorder depend on which mood you’re experiencing.

“Unlike simple mood swings, each extreme episode of bipolar disorder can last for several weeks (or even longer).”


The high and low phases of bipolar disorder are often so extreme they interfere with everyday lift.

But the NHS assures there are several options for treating bipolar disorder that can make a difference.

Treatments aim to control the effects of an episode and help someone with bipolar disorder live life as normally as possible.

The NHS says the following treatment options are available:

  • Medicine to prevent episodes of mania and depression – these are known as mood stabilisers, and you take them every day on a long-term basis
  • Medicine to treat the main symptoms of depression and mania when they happen
  • Learning to recognise the triggers and signs of an episode of depression or mania
  • Psychological treatment – such as talking therapy, which can help you deal with depression, and provides advice about how to improve your relationships
  • Lifestyle advice – such as doing regular exercise, planning activities you enjoy that give you a sense of achievement, as well as advice on improving your diet and getting more sleep

The health body adds: “It’s thought using a combination of different treatment methods is the best way to control bipolar disorder.

“Help and advice for people with a long-term condition or their carers is also available from charities, support groups and associations.

“This includes self-help and learning to deal with the practical aspects of a long-term condition.”

What causes bipolar disorder?

The exact cause of the condition is unknown, but researchers suggest a combination of different factors, including physical, environmental and social, can increase a person’s chance of developing the condition says mental health charity Mind.

Childhood trauma can have an effect on a person’s ability to regulate their emotions.

Stress is unlikely to cause bipolar disorder, but can trigger an episode of mania or depression.

The charity adds: “Evidence shows that bipolar symptoms can be treated with certain psychiatric medications, which are known to act on the neurotransmitters (messenger chemicals) in your brain.

“This suggests that bipolar disorder may be related to problems with the function of these neurotransmitters – and this is supported by some research.

“However, no one knows for certain exactly how these neurotransmitters work and whether problems with these are a cause or a result of bipolar disorder.”

If you experience bipolar disorder, you’re more likely to have a family member who also experiences bipolar moods and symptoms.

If you experience the symptoms of bipolar disorder, see your GP.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here