Does Debbiefrom Shameless have bipolar? (+3 Causal factors)

The current blogpost will be discussing if Debbie has bipolar. In addition to this, we will also be going through the various signs and symptoms of mental health issues that Debbie Gallagher depicts in the series, ‘Shameless’, and look at some of the possible causes of this.

Does Debbie from Shameless have bipolar?

No, Debbie does not have bipolar. In the show ‘Shameless’, Debbie is not confirmed to have bipolar, unlike Ian or Monica Gallagher. Debbie is actually not clinically diagnosed to have any such mental illness in the show.

However, mental health experts and viewers who have carefully watched and studied the show, ‘Shameless’, have felt that she demonstrates many signs and symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder.

This is because the character shows a hard time in controlling her anger and constantly manipulates others for her own good. She is also pretty attention-seeking in all the wrong places, which further fuels this theory that she might have BPD.

Still other loyal fans and viewers of the show have speculated that Debbie Gallagher might be indeed suffering from Abandonment Anxiety. In Debbie’s case, she constantly had to deal with the emotional absence of both her parents.

While this actually made Debbie more self-reliant and independent early on in the show, the pain and trauma that abandonment causes eventually caught up with her and led to negative behavioral patterns and tendencies much later on in the series.

Signs of Debbie’s mental health issues

‘Shameless’ actually does not confirm any clinical diagnosis for Debbie. At the same time, it is pretty visibly seen right from the start that this Gallagher is just as troubled as any of her other siblings who are dealing with mental health issues.

In this section of the post, a few signs and symptoms of Debbie’s mental health issues and her maladaptive behaviors have been discussed in brief.

She gets pregnant on purpose

In one instance, where viewers can clearly see that Debbie is emotionally very manipulative for her own gains, is when she gets pregnant on purpose. She lies to Derek that she is actually on the pill so that he will have sex with her.

This leads to a pregnancy which is ultimately Debbie’s way of creating her own perfect family and getting away from her current dysfunctional one. However, the pregnancy is not a happy one and neither does she take care of her baby well.

She rapes her boyfriend

Debbie Gallagher is a rapist. Her first boyfriend, Matt, denies sex from her and so she takes advantage of him when he was drunk and rapes him. This actually makes her feel victorious and gives her hope that Matt would like to actually pursue a relationship with her.

When Matt sobers-up, he denies Debbie again and breaks up for good with her. She only feels sad in this instant and does not show any remorse or guilt for the rape. In another episode, she also kisses a girl who was sleeping.

She steals a toddler

Another demented act that Debbie takes part in is when she actually steals a toddler from a birthday party. Even though the other siblings are not supportive of this and force her to give the baby back, Debbie is relentless and does not see the harm in this.

This happens in the first season of ‘Shameless’ when Debbie is still the very sweet and loving girl of the family. She steals the baby because she feels very sad and lonely and wants someone to love her back. This also shows her abandonment anxiety and her deep-rooted mental issues.

She’s a terrible mother

Much later on in the series, Debbie has a baby and names the child Frances Gallagher, calling her Franny for short. While becoming a mother is definitely and completely Debbie’s own plan, she can be seen to be a terrible mother shortly afterward.

She does not play with her child and instead leaves Franny for hours in the play pen. In fact, after she has her baby, Debbie actually becomes a lot more sexually active and pawns off Franny to her partners for free baby-sitting.

She also never took responsibility for her own baby and continually gets frustrated with her own siblings as she felt that they had to step in and take care of her baby for her. When the battle of custody starts, she even pays another child to impersonate Franny.

She continuously puts up with Frank

From the beginning of the series, it can be visibly seen that Debbie Gallagher definitely seeks the attention of her father, Frank. She continuously puts up with his bad habits and calls him ‘dad’ even if the other siblings don’t.

Her desperation for attention from her own father is actually the main reason behind her negative behaviors and her actions. However, this is also not towards a healthy cause since she actually pushes Frank off the wagon after she finds his sobriety tiring and frustrating.

She becomes sexually active pretty early

Just like the other siblings in the Gallagher household, Debbie Gallagher also becomes very sexually active pretty early on. However, her choices are very poor and she basically goes for anyone who is ready to give her some attention.

She is not aware of her sexual orientation

In the series, ‘Shameless’, Debbie starts off as a straight woman. However, after some time, the character changes her sexual orientation and decides to explore other genders as well. She can be seen constantly flitting from one gender to another and is not clear about her orientation.

She does not have healthy relationships

Debbie Gallagher has many relationships throughout the series, ‘Shameless’. At the same time, none of the relationships are healthy and secure. The relationships are very short-term and are mostly for some easy gains for Debbie.

In most of the relationships, Debbie can be seen day-dreaming and forming her own world where she lives ‘happily ever after’ with the other person. She is desperate to start her own family, which leads to her teen-pregnancy with Derek.

Causes of Debbie’s mental health issues

Debbie’s mental health issues in ‘Shameless’, cannot be easily classified into a certain mental illness. Firstly, the character is too young to be clinically diagnosed, and she also does not portray all the symptoms of any such mental illness.

A few causal factors which could have led to Debbie’s mental health issues in the series ‘Shameless’ have been explained as follows.

  • Her relationship with Frank: The most definite causal factor which could have contributed to Debbie’s many mental health issues is the imbalanced relationship that she shared with her alcoholic father.

Frank was never fully available for Debbie who clearly sought his attention right from the start. However, when he was ready to give it, as in the case when he sobered up, Debbie was already grown up and couldn’t indulge in his presence for more than a short while.

  • Her dysfunctional family: The Gallagher home is certainly not a healthy and happy environment. Growing up in such a dysfunctional family with no stable income, no loving parents and no security would have definitely affected Debbie’s mental health.
  • Her family history: A history of bipolar disorder runs in the Gallagher family, and Ian Gallagher falls prey to it. While Debbie does not show all the signs of bipolar disorder, her other mental health issues can be partly blamed on the family history.


The current blogpost has discussed if Debbie has bipolar. In addition to this, we have also gone through the various signs and symptoms of mental health issues that Debbie Gallagher depicts in the series, ‘Shameless’, and looked at some of the possible causes of this.

If you like this blogpost, please leave your comments and questions in the space below.


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