Demi Lovato is speaking out about her bipolar disorder diagnosis, saying she was relieved when she received it.
Experts say this reaction is common, particularly for people who don’t understand why they feel a particular way.
Mental health professionals say it’s valuable when celebrities like Lovato speak about their challenges because it helps to destigmatize conditions and encourages people to seek help.
Receiving a formal diagnosis and customized treatment for mental health conditions is essential.
Demi Lovato is no stranger to going public with mental health challenges.
The singer and actress has been public about her issues with substance use disorder, eating disorders, and depression.
Lovato first revealed she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder in an interview with PEOPLE in 2011. Now, she’s speaking up again, saying she felt “relieved” when she received the diagnosis while speaking at a Hollywood & Mind Summit in Los Angeles on May 11. Lovato hopes her candid remarks help others.
“I knew that if I could help others with their journey, then that’s exactly what I wanted to do,” Lovato said, according to a PEOPLE report. “And so I decided to be open and honest about what I had finally learned about myself.”
Experts feel the same way — and believe such comments from people like Lovato can help change the way people view mental health.
“When Demi Lovato and other celebrities speak out, it can be really empowering for [them]… and for the community to see that people even at that celebrity status can have mental health struggles,” says Adam Gonzalez, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist, vice chair of behavioral health at Stony Brook Medicine. “It’s important for people in the spotlight to express their challenges so that people not in the spotlight, everyday people like ourselves, might be more comfortable sharing about their mental health struggles and seeking treatment.”
And one psychologist says Lovato’s remarks serve as a reminder that mental health is as important as physical health — and that it’s essential to continue to stop the stigma surrounding it.
“The question rings true: why do we feel comfortable openly admitting to having diabetes or high cholesterol but are ashamed to tell others about extreme anxiety or severe depression?” notes,” Dr. Zishan Khan, a psychiatrist and regional medical director at Mindpath Health.A mental health diagnosis can bring relief
In 2019, more than 40 million people were living with bipolar disorder, according to a reportTrusted Source from the World Health Organization.
Lovato was one of them. Fans knew that. But, though Lovato first discussed having bipolar in 2011, her latest comments may come as a surprise given the stigma around mental health (particularly more than a decade ago): The diagnosis brought relief.
“I was so relieved that I had finally had a diagnosis,” Lovato said. “I had spent so many years struggling, and I didn’t know why I was a certain way in dealing with depression at such extreme lows when I seemingly had the world in front of me just ripe with opportunities.”
But Gonzalez, who is also the founding director of the Stony Brook University Mind-Body Clinical Research Center at the Renaissance School of Medicine, says this relief is common among people who receive a mental health diagnosis like bipolar.
“When you are experiencing distress and discourse in your life, it can be very disorienting and jarring,” Gonzalez says. “People can question what is going on with them. It can be confusing and scary. To have a professional say, ‘Based on the symptoms and the experiences you are reporting, it sounds like this is what you are struggling with,’ can be very freeing for an individual. Now, they have some answers.”