Question: Is it true that people in certain lines of work (artists, etc.) are more likely to develop bipolar disorder?
Answer: This is a very interesting question and one that has intrigued writers and investigators for many years.
Dr. Kay Jamison has written quite eloquently upon this topic. Careful studies though have been quite inconsistent in terms of providing answers to this question.
While artists may be more likely to suffer from bipolar illness than perhaps certain other groups, it could be because the illness in and of itself leads individuals to select work environments or vocations or occupations which would be more tolerant of the erratic behaviors or the inconsistency that can go along with the illness.
Similarly, for every individual that may be thought of to be highly functioning and highly creative with bipolar illness, scores of other individuals who have attempted careers in the arts or other creative fields have found themselves unable to maintain those careers because of their illness. I think the danger is to romanticize a possible association of bipolar illness and creativity. In fact, recent studies have demonstrated that treating bipolar illness in no way decreases a person's creative productivity, and in fact will enhance or may increase their productivity.