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Catherine Zeta-Jones Treated for Bipolar Disorder

Oscar-Winning Actress Was Treated at Mental Health Facility for Bipolar II
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By Peter Russell
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Farah Ahmed, MD

April 14, 2011 -- Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones has been treated for bipolar disorder, her publicist has confirmed.

Zeta-Jones, 41, was admitted to a mental health facility after helping her husband, actor Michael Douglas, recover from throat cancer.

"After dealing with the stress of the past year, Catherine made the decision to check in to a mental health facility for a brief stay to treat her Bipolar II Disorder," publicist Cece Yorke says in a statement. The Oscar-winning actress reportedly checked into a clinic in Connecticut for five days earlier this month.

Mood Swings

Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression, is a severe mental health problem. It involves extreme mood swings that alternate between highs and lows.

"For some of the time people are very, very depressed -- and that's not the same as just being a bit blue or having a bit of a bad day," says Jane Harris, associate director of the mental health charity Rethink. She tells WebMD that a typical symptom is "a complete lack of emotion about anything" and during episodes "people are very down, they lack self-worth, and they may have problems even getting out of bed, let alone out of the house."

Harris says the other side to the condition is a period when people feel "absolutely euphoric and pretty manic and really feel like they can take on the world and do anything."

Harris says stressful situations such as bereavement, divorce, or money worries can trigger bipolar. "Certainly caring for a husband who is very ill will certainly be a very stressful time.”

Harris thinks publicity surrounding Zeta-Jones's treatment for bipolar will be good for other people with the disorder who are prone to feeling stigmatized. "Somebody like Catherine Zeta-Jones talking so openly about it ... just shows that this can happen to anybody, and I think that is a bit of a comfort for people who are really struggling."

Some mental health professionals categorize bipolar into four main subtypes. Bipolar II, which Zeta-Jones is said to have, has similar symptoms as bipolar I. These symptoms include moods that cycle between high and low. However, in bipolar II, the “up” mood swings are much less intense.

Treatment of Bipolar Disorder

Harris says people with bipolar usually need a mixture of medication and talk therapy. "What's really important is that if people do go to a medical professional ... they shouldn't just be given medication because really you need both to really maximize your chances of getting over it."

Harris adds: "As long as Catherine Zeta-Jones gets the right treatment, she should certainly be back in films in the near future."

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