What is Bipolar Disorder? signs and symptoms of Kanye West’s condition - and why singer Halsey has warned against mocking the rapper

Kanye West has been ridiculed in recent weeks, with many making light of his mental health struggles

Kanye West revealed his bipolar diagnosis in 2018 (Getty Images)

Kanye West’s music career, marriage to reality TV star Kim Kardashian and his fearlessness in courting controversy has seen him become a figure of huge interest to the public.

The 43 year old has been in the public spotlight recently, following the launch of an unconventional US presidential campaign and, more recently, for a series of tweets targeting his wife and mother-in-law.

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West’s recent prominence has seen him targeted with derogatory comments about his mental illness, with Young Turks host Cenk Ughyur labelling the musician “officially crazy.”

Kanye West revealed that he was living with bipolar on album, ye, in 2018. Though some of the views presented by West on his Twitter timeline and at his presidential rally could be deemed troubling and offensive, the use of negative phrases and criticism relating to his well-publicised mental condition have been labelled by mental health campaigners as ableism.

What is bipolar disorder?

Previously known as manic depression, bipolar disorder (sometimes shortened to BPD) is a mental health condition which can cause extreme mood swings.

People who live with bipolar disorder can experience both depression (a feeling of lethargy and lowness) and mania - a feeling of overactivity and highness. Extreme episodes of bipolar can last for several weeks.

Symptoms of bipolar

Symptoms of bipolar vary depending on the mood being experienced.

- Someone experiencing depression may have the following symptoms:

- Feeling sad, hopeless or irritable most of the time

- Lacking energy

- Difficulty concentrating and remembering things

- Loss of interest in everyday activities

- Feelings of emptiness or worthlessness

- Feelings of guilt and despair

- Feeling pessimistic about everything

- Self-doubt

- Being delusional, having hallucinations and disturbed or illogical thinking

- Lack of appetite

- Difficulty sleeping

- Waking up early

- Suicidal thoughts

Someone experiencing mania on the other hand may experience the following symptoms:

- Feeling very happy, elated or overjoyed

- Talking very quickly

- Feeling full of energy

- Feeling self-important

- Feeling full of great new ideas and having important plans

- Being easily distracted

- Being easily irritated or agitated

- Being delusional, having hallucinations and disturbed or illogical thinking

- Not feeling like sleeping

- Not eating

- Doing things that often have disastrous consequences - such as spending large sums of money on expensive and sometimes unaffordable items

- Making decisions or saying things that are out of character and that others see as being risky or harmful

What has Kanye West said about his bipolar condition?

On his 2018 album, ye, West spoke frankly about his bipolar condition, labelling it “a superpower,” in an attempt to reduce the stigma attached to the illness.

In a 2019 interview he said, "It's a health issue that has a strong stigma on it and people are allowed to say anything about it and discriminate in any way. This is like a sprained brain, like having a sprained ankle. And if someone has a sprained ankle, you're not going to push on him more.”

How to respond to Kanye West’s behaviour

There is nothing wrong with criticising Kanye West for holding a view that you may deem abhorrent, whether it be his anti-abortion stance or criticism of slave abolitionists. Racism, misogyny and other forms of bigotry are not an inherent symptom of a mental illness.

However, not responding is a perfectly acceptable reaction. Performer Halsey, who also lives with bipolar disorder, suggested that reacting to Kanye West with silence could be the best form of action.

Speculating on his mental health and suggesting that he may be experiencing mania or depression, or attempting to explain the inner workings of West’s mind should be avoided.

Speaking to the BBC, Professor Steven Kinderman said, "Stick to the facts, stick to what people do, and don't speculate to potential psychiatric causes of people's behaviour.”