Kanye West opens up about his struggle with bipolar disorder: "It's like a sprained brain"

Kanye West opens up about bipolar disorder

Kanye West is opening up about a topic he rarely discusses — his mental health. The rapper details his struggle with bipolar disorder in the new season of David Letterman's Netflix show, "My Next Guest Needs No Introduction."

In a clip of the episode, which is set to drop Friday, Letterman asks West, "What is the mechanism that is malfunctioning or is taking a break in your brain, do you know?"

"I wouldn't be able to explain that as much just because, you know, I'm not a doctor," West replied. "I can just tell you what I'm feeling at the time, and I feel a heightened connection with the universe when I'm ramping up. It is a health issue. This — it's 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. With us, once our brain gets to a point of spraining, people do everything to make it worse."

West says he is under a doctor's care, that he uses alternative treatment methods, but he thinks medication may work with others with bipolar disorder.

Dr. Tara Narula told "CBS This Morning" she applauds West and every other celebrity who speaks about their mental health illness.

"Because this is a real struggle for so many Americans. One in five Americans, our husbands, our children, our friends are dealing with this. And many of them are suffering in silence, they're suffering with shame and guilt. They're suffering alone, and they're not getting the care and the treatment that they need," Narula said.

She said that a major factor in the way it is treated and acknowledged in our society is the fact that we can't see it.

"That's part of the issue. It's not a tumor or a mass that you can see. It's not a plaque in a heart artery that I can show you. But the pain is real. Some have described it as being worse than the worst physical pain you can possibly imagine," she said.

Narula said that bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that's characterized by fluctuations in mood, energy, activity, and affects your ability to really function on a daily basis.

"It swings between these very, very high, highs — mania or hypomania and these low lows or depression. And it affects about 2.5 percent of the American population," Narula said. "It can often be misdiagnosed for many years and when it's not treated properly, it can wreak havoc on a patient or a person's financial life, their personal life, their work life and it can be associated with an increased risk of suicide. We know 10 to 15 percent of bipolar patients die by suicide. Bravo to Kanye. I think it's hard to explain as he said what it feels like."

For names of mental health providers, you can call the mental health services helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.