Charlie Sheen and the cast of Two and a Half Men
There seems to be some speculation regarding Charlie Sheen’s mental health due to his record of bizarre and reckless behavior, as well as frequent problems with the law. The actor, popular for his role and being booted off Two and a Half Men, has a history of serious problems with drugs, alcohol, and domestic violence. Sheen is also known for his actions toward women. In 1989, Sheen shot his then-fiancé Kelly Preston on the arm, which fortunately did not result in serious injuries; Preston soon after broke up with him. The actor was charged with assault and sentenced to probation in 1996 when he hit a former girlfriend. He was arrested again in 2009 after reports of domestic violence. In 2014, Sheen was again sued for assault and battery after punching a dental technician in the chest during an office visit. Sheen was also married three times, all ending in divorce.
All of the above actions and troubles could be caused by a lingering mental disorder.
It is also important to focus on the topic of mental illness. A significant portion of Americans are not mentally healthy. According to a report featured in Newsweek, about 18.2 percent of the total adult population (42.5 million) suffers from mental illnesses including depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Among that, about 4% of those people have a serious mental illness that prevents them from working or performing daily activities.
Charlie Sheen’s possible mental disorders
Note that the actor did not disclose any relevant information about his mental health. Up to the time of writing, Sheen has not disclosed any paper or medical statements about his health, with the exceptions of verbal statements he gave on interviews on TV shows. However, his actions and situation clearly show problems, especially on mental health. All we could do is speculate on his actions.
The actor could have hypomania, according to a statement by Dr. Drew (Drew Pinsky), the famed Hollywood therapist known for producing and starring Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew and similar shows. Hypomania is a mood problem. It is not a recognized mental disorder; however, the symptoms are often so bad that it affects the person’s life and relationships. Although Dr. Drew is among the most popular celebrity doctors, he is actually an internist and addiction medicine specialist, so his view on the matter is something that comes from authority. According to the doctor, Sheen might have symptoms of hypomania, which is characterized by symptoms of delusions of grandeur, euphoria, irritability, extreme creativity, and reduced need for sleep.
An article in Psychology Today published in 2011 stated that the actor’s timeline of drugs, alcohol, legal issues, hospitalizations, and rehab stints are indications of bipolar disorder. Also known as manic-depressive disorder, it is characterized by the rapid swing of mood to extremes; something most people do not do on a normal basis. Bipolar disorder causes a person to have emotional highs and lows, from extreme depression to euphoria, in short periods. It is a crippling mental disorder, as varying moods often cause the person to be unable to commit to work or accomplish daily activities. Some of its symptoms include reduced focus, unusual talkativeness, racing thoughts, reduced need for sleep, euphoria, unusual self-confidence, increased energy levels, and agitation. In an interview with Dr. Oz, Sheen stated he’s diagnosed with bipolar disorder, to explain his history of erratic behavior.
Sheen might also be afflicted with depression, also known as major depressive disorder. Depression is a very common mental disorder. It is more than just ‘sadness’ that you can overcome through sheer willpower. It prevents the person from assuming responsibilities at school, work, and home. Depression can drive a person to commit suicide. Contrary to popular belief, the ultimate cause of depression is unknown. Life stressors are not the only factors to blame.
Childhood trauma, drug abuse, and having anxiety disorders can also trigger depression. It also has genetic. Some Charlie Sheen’s statements can point to depression. He stated on Today in 2014 that he was extremely depressed and contemplated suicide after being diagnosed with HIV. Note that it is somewhat common for newly-diagnosed HIV patients to experience depression.
Lastly, the actor may have a personality disorder, notably narcissistic personality disorder. Personality disorders are mental illnesses, and according to several health organizations, it causes an unhealthy pattern of thinking, functioning, and behaving. A person with a personality disorder has serious problems perceiving and relating to people and situations. Like any other mental disorder, it also causes problems at home, work, and school. Narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by having an abnormal and inflated sense of self-importance, deep need for admiration, and lack of empathy to others. To a narcissistic person, the world should revolve around him or her. The disorder is damaging to the person and the people around him or her. In many cases, the person does not know or will not accept that they have a serious mental health problem.
In the next sections, we will try to determine if Charlie Sheen’s mental health issues are associated with factors such as substance abuse and other health problems.
It is well known that Sheen has a record of drug abuse. The actor famously dabbled with cocaine, a stimulating drug that is highly addictive. It is a very strong stimulant, causing intense euphoria, agitation, and loss of contact with reality. However, these effects do not last very long. The resulting crash causes anxiety, paranoia, tremors, and restlessness. The crash is undesirable, so the user typically ends up taking more cocaine again to find relief, and the cycle starts again.
Cocaine is addictive because it directly stimulates the reward centers of the brain, so each time you take it, your body feels intense positive feedback that makes you take the drug again, resulting in addiction. Once you are an addict, nothing can resemble that feeling closer than the drug you are addicted to.
Cocaine is a popular recreational drug because it causes euphoria. Despite being very addictive, cocaine is not among the most commonly abused drug because it is costly. A variant of cocaine, commonly known as crack cocaine, contains cocaine plus other impurities and other drugs, is just as addictive and is relatively very cheap.
It is also known that Sheen has a record of being addicted to painkillers. Painkillers such as Vicodin, Oxycontin, Valium, and Percocet are likely candidates as these drugs are often illegally prescribed and abused.
Sheen’s exploits while under the influence can be described nothing less than memorable. His first rehab stint occurred at the age of 25 for alcohol and substance abuse. In 1998, the actor was arrested for breaking parole and overdosing on drugs. Sheen got a divorce from then-wife Denise Richards, citing volatile behavior, addiction to prescription drugs, and gambling. In 2011, Sheen was brought to the hospital after apparently overdosing on drugs with adult film stars; due to the incident, and for his bizarre behavior after that, he was fired from Two and a Half Men.
It should be noted that there is a connection between drug abuse and mental illness. Although the ultimate cause is very difficult to determine in most cases, it is unmistakable that both can occur together. Drug abuse can lead the user to experience one or more mental illnesses, and vice versa. For example, abusing cocaine or methamphetamine may cause psychosis (break with reality). Individuals with mental illnesses may also abuse drugs, which is not uncommon as they often try to self-medicate and end up with an addiction problem.
In the case of Charlie Sheen, it is difficult to determine for sure if he has a history or is suffering from mental illness. However, use of drugs and other substances is not helpful to him and his mental health.
Alcohol abuse: Does it cause mental disorders?
Charlie Sheen is also known to have a serious alcohol problem, as he recently revealed to Dr. Oz that he tried to quit drinking ‘2,000’ times. His misadventures with alcohol contributed to his meltdowns and well-known public antics. In 2014, Sheen went into a Taco Bell drive-through, visibly intoxicated and slurring, all captured on video that was published online.
Much later, in 2015, the actor was involved in a physical altercation in a bar where he was subjected to a headlock by the bouncers; he was removed after slapping the hand of a fan trying to shoot video using a phone, damaging it. In 2016, the actor was found drunk and without clothing in New York hotel and had to be taken to the hospital.
According to years of research, there is evidence that alcohol abuse can be damaging to mental health in the long term. Intoxication can cause changes to the action of neurotransmitters in the brain. Many people end up drinking to alleviate depression and anxiety. However, getting drunk often can actually worsen depression and anxiety. To relieve it, the person ends up drinking again. Note that alcohol intoxication often causes psychosis. In addition, the risk of self-harm and suicide is much higher in alcoholics.
Does HIV cause mental disorders?
Sheen was diagnosed with HIV in May of 2011. According to his story in the Daily Mail, the actor was so shocked with the diagnosis that he revealed it to his father Martin Sheen after about a month. He then hid his diagnosis for 4 years before revealing it in the ’Today’ interview. Sheen’s case is obviously problematic as it generated many accusations from his former girlfriends and sex partners, who said that the actor hid the diagnosis from them while continuing partying and paying for sex.
Facing HIV has severe ramifications to mental integrity. Initial diagnosis often causes denial, fear, anger, sadness, and anxiety. Initial infection of HIV does not immediately cause mental illness, as the virus does not initially cause obvious symptoms and does not infect the brain (that may occur much later). However, people diagnosed with a lifelong disease like HIV are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), insomnia, and suicidal behavior than the general population.
Why has mental illness become so prevalent in the United States?
The root cause of the rise in mental illnesses in the United States is highly debated. Some say that reduction of resources given to psychiatric facilities is the cause. Some say that more stressors, like student debt, the the tendency of social isolation, job difficulties, and societal oppression, leads a tendency of mental illness. Others even blame the recently adopted diagnostic criteria of mental illnesses, saying that the expanded definition causes more people to be diagnosed with psychiatric problems.
Treatments for mental disorders
Mental disorders, in almost all cases, worsen over time and therefore should not be ignored. Conditions like anxiety and depression require urgent treatment so the person can adapt to having a normal life.
Many mental illnesses can be treated at home and do not require extended medical attention. In many cases, the patient has to go to a doctor’s clinic for treatments or for medications. Many patients benefit from psychotherapy, a method talk therapy done by a professional such as a psychiatrist or a psychologist.
In psychotherapy, the health provider will discuss with the patient about thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, overall seeking to improve an individual’s well-being. Although it sounds simple, psychotherapy is among the most effective treatments for many mental illnesses. Psychotherapy is typically done in several sessions.
Many patients with mental illnesses such as anxiety disorders, depression, or bipolar disorders are prescribed with medicines. Medicines for mental illnesses include anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressants, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, tranquilizers, and sleeping pills. These medications are available only with a doctor’s prescription, and are often used in tandem with other treatment methods.
Drugs do not cure mental illnesses, but they work by reducing symptoms and making the patient feel better to better adapt to everyday life. Psychologists and psychiatrists will prescribe drugs if necessary and will schedule frequent checkups to monitor their effects.
Medical care and checkups are essential in treating mental illnesses. Most drugs used in treatment need to be adjusted according to the patient’s specific needs. Patients also have different responses to drugs, and may require other drugs or need a different dose, so doctors have to keep a close eye on every aspect of treatment. Medicines for mental illnesses do cause certain side effects such as drowsiness, problems achieving sleep, constipation, unintended weight gain, problems with body coordination, slurred or slowed speech, or reduced interest in sex. Doctors understand the possibility of side effects caused by drugs and would like to minimize them, so the patient should comply and undergo treatment as directed, noting any changes and side effects. Therefore, patients still have to visit their doctors frequently during treatment.
Another important treatment consideration for mental illness is social support. Even in western countries, there is still a strong stigma when it comes to mental illness. People with mental problems often find themselves feeling alone and hopeless with no family or friends to help them with their issues. Doctors understand that mental issues are likely to worsen without social and family support. Therefore, care often involves family and friends. In many cases, patients are referred to social support groups.
Untreated mental disorders can cause serious unintended consequences, and sometimes death. Conditions like depression, anxiety disorders, and bipolar disorder become worse over time. If the patient does not receive medication or therapy, he or she may be unable to keep a job, maintain their home, or perform self-care.
People with untreated mental problems may end up with serious problems, such as turning to drugs or alcohol, like Charlie Sheen. The actor, whether he has bipolar disorder, depression, or other mental disorder, did not seem to have received any help for mental issues on the record.
The patient’s family and social circle can be badly affected by untreated mental illness, which explains why it is a big issue today. A significant proportion of the homeless population has lingering mental illnesses. Most individuals with mental illness are not violent and not a danger to society. More often than not, the mentally ill are victims.
Charlie Sheen’s case shows how not to deal with mental illness
Looking back at the actor’s situation, his addictions, bizarre behavior, relationship problems, and reckless behavior clearly indicate a mental problem that should have been treated. If Sheen received proper mental care, he could have saved his Hollywood career or may have avoided contracting HIV. Continued public interest and his impulsive antics are certainly not helping.
The actor’s case is not unique. A significant amount of people with mental problems also have other health issues such as addictions, continued engagement in risky behavior, HIV, or other preventable diseases. A lot of them still do not receive adequate attention and medical care, whether it is because of healthcare costs or other reasons.
Whatever the demands of society are, it is still our duty to preserve the mental integrity of ourselves and others. You probably know somebody who has depression or is struggling with other mental health issues. You can do a lot by referring him or her to a psychiatrist, a social worker, or charitable institutions in your area.