It was first revealed publicly that Catherine Zeta-Jones suffers from bipolar disorder, or manic-depression, in 2011 after she sought in-patient treatment for the condition. The brain disorder, which is characterized by unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, can be triggered by prolonged periods of extreme stress. It’s thought that Zeta-Jones began experiencing extreme depression because of the stress caused by caring for her husband, Michael Douglas, who had been battling stage IV throat cancer for a year at the time.
Douglas’s cancer did eventually go into remission, but the experience had taken its toll on Zeta-Jones and she was later diagnosed with bipolar II – a form of the disorder that involves periods of depression and periods of hypomania. Hypomania is a mood that is noticeably heightened, as compared to a person’s normal or depressed state. They may seem unusually cheerful or energetic.
Bipolar I, however, also involves periods of depression, but instead of hypomania, sufferers experience mania. Mania is a mood that is abnormally heightened. For example, a person experiencing mania may be out of control in their level of cheerfulness or energy and may also display psychotic symptoms, like hallucinations or delusions.
While Zeta-Jones has said in the media that she “never wanted to be the poster child” for bipolar disorder, her celebrity status is helping to bring awareness to a condition that often goes unrecognized or mistaken for something else. Since the symptoms can make someone appear to be simply happy, productive, and functional, the condition often goes untreated until the symptoms become extreme and interfere significantly with a person’s daily life.
Zeta-Jones has recently checked herself into a 30-day treatment facility for further treatment of her bipolar II, illustrating the need for life-long maintenance of the disease. But with the right treatment, sufferers of bipolar disorder can get their extreme mood swings under control and experience an improved quality of life.
To seek help for bipolar or other mental health issues, find a trusted psychiatrist near you.
Sources: cbsnews.com, abcnews.go.com, dailymail.co.uk, and nih.gov