Does Ian have bipolar? (+9 Signs & symptoms)

In this post, we will be explaining if Ian has bipolar. We will also be showing you the various signs and symptoms of Ian Gallagher’s bipolar disorder, while examining a few causal factors which could have contributed to it.

Does Ian have Bipolar?

Yes, Ian has bipolar. Ian Gallagher, from the show ‘Shameless’, reveals that he is suffering from bipolar disorder in season 9. Bipolar disorder actually runs in the Gallagher family, and even Ian’s mother suffered from it.

However, the viewers of the show are much more privy to the information that Ian Gallagher definitely has bipolar disorder since this played out from season 4 of the show. Viewers can clearly see Ian developing his symptoms of the mental illness.

Bipolar disorder is characterized by having very polarized moods and mindsets and this and more of the symptoms are depicted in the main character. More specifically, it can be said that Ian Gallagher is suffering from Bipolar Disorder 1.

In Bipolar Disorder 1, the person experiences one or more manic episodes for a minimum period of a week and also major depressive episodes for at least a period of two weeks. In this type of bipolar disorder, the manic phases are much more intense in nature.

Throughout the episodes from season 4, Ian Gallagher can be slowly unfurling all the signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder, including exhibiting a number of psychotic symptoms, after which he falls into a depressive episode.

Signs of Ian’s Bipolar

The show ‘Shameless’ was actually praised by critics and fans for its very accurate portrayal of bipolar disorder, particularly in the case of Ian Gallagher. In the following points, we have discussed the various signs and symptoms of Ian Gallagher’s bipolar disorder.

He shows hyper-sexuality

When Ian Gallagher starts demonstrating the many signs and symptoms of bipolar, one of the first to come out was hyper-sexuality. This led him to create a gay-club and pursue flimsy relationships with many men who were already married and had families.

He does not care about the feelings of others

Another sign of bipolar that can be seen in Ian Gallagher when he started showing symptoms is his negligence of the feelings of others. A lack of empathy can be considered a sign of bipolar disorder and even many other mental illnesses.

He stole a helicopter

In one of his manic phases, Ian Gallagher can be seen stealing a helicopter when he was in the army. This is a serious offense but he does not realize the intense consequences that this action could lead to. Not realizing the dangerous consequences of actions is seen in bipolar disorder.

He shows an increase in energy

When in a manic phase, the person will show an immense increase in energy levels, much more than what they would have had before. Similarly, Ian Gallagher shows a major increase in his energy levels, especially after season 4 of ‘Shameless’.

He has religious delusions

In one of the seasons, Ian Gallagher stops taking his medication. This leads to a spiral out of control and creates another manic-depressive cycle. In this manic phase, Ian becomes a religious fanatic called ‘Gay Jesus’.

This is another characteristic of bipolar disorder, especially the manic phase, since the person can have many delusions of grandeur and an inflated ego. The ‘Gay Jesus’ phase is also confirmed to be a sign of bipolar, since Ian snaps out of it after resuming his medication.

He kidnaps Mickey’s baby

Ian Gallagher definitely loses sight of reality and consequences when he kidnaps Mickey and Svetlana’s baby and goes on a road trip without informing them. He does not stop with this and actually endangers the life of the baby furthermore.

In one dangerous example, he locks the baby in the car in burning temperatures while he goes to have sex in return for cash. All these reckless and dangerous activities depict the signs of bipolar disorder in a raw form.

He can be seen talking to himself

Self-talk is also a sign of mental illness, and is also present in bipolar disorder, again in the manic phase. Ian Gallagher also depicts this. He can be seen talking to himself throughout the road trip where he kidnapped baby Yevgeny.

He pushed Frank off the bridge

Frank Gallagher, who is the patriarch of the Gallagher household, is certainly not a model father-figure. After he ruins Debbie’s wedding, Frank is thrown off a bridge into a freezing river by Debbie, Kev, Veronica, Svetlana, Caleb, Carl and even Ian.

While the scene is shown in a comical light, the seriousness of the children trying to kill the father cannot be ignored. Despite being aware that Frank could indeed be dead, none of the siblings, including Gallagher seem bothered about it and show remorse.

Taking part in such an activity definitely points out to the various mental illnesses and emotional issues that the Gallagher suffer from, even Ian Gallagher. This can also be considered another sign of bipolar disorder.

He steals an ambulance

Ian Gallagher has a basic pattern of stealing things and even people whenever he is in a manic phase. At the same time, even when he is on the mend through medication, stealing things can be seen as a deep-rooted personality trait in Ian.

For example, when he and Mickey decide to transport marijuana for legal dealers, Ian goes ahead and steals an ambulance. He did this with the thought of the enormous deals that he and Mickey might be able to achieve in the future.

There are three red flags here – first, Ian did not see this as something illegal and did not think about consequences. Secondly, he builds up a huge dream without thinking about the ‘how tos’ and the ‘what ifs’.

Thirdly, he does not stop to ask Mickey about his decision. While the three red flags complete the picture of Ian Gallagher struggling with the effects of bipolar disorder, the first red flag is perhaps the biggest one.

Causes of Ian’s Bipolar

Ian Gallagher’s bipolar is one of the juiciest arcs in the show, ‘Shameless’ and was praised for its accuracy and attention to details. A few factors which might have contributed to Ian Gallagher’s bipolar in some way or the other have been listed below.

  • The family history of bipolar: The biggest causal factor for Ian Gallagher’s bipolar disorder is perhaps the family history of such an illness. Ian’s mother, Monica Gallagher, also suffered from bipolar disorder which actually helped the other siblings identify it.

In terms of mental illness, especially bipolar disorder, family history plays a very important role. Ian can also be seen developing symptoms during his teenage years, which is pretty much the typical age when this disorder can be first seen.

  • The dysfunctional family: The Gallagher household is definitely not a normal one and is very dysfunctional. There are no strong and reliable parental figures to guide the siblings along their lives.

Being brought up in a family such as this could have also led to mental and emotional issues in Ian Gallagher. This could have definitely worsened the symptoms of bipolar disorder that Ian Gallagher might have been already suffering from.


In this post, we have explained if Ian has bipolar. We have also shown you the various signs and symptoms of Ian Gallagher’s bipolar disorder, while examining a few causal factors which could have contributed to it.

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