Catherine Zeta-Jones has bipolar disorder

Catherine Zeta-Jones is heading back to work this week after seeking inpatient treatment for bipolar disorder.

A spokeswoman for Zeta-Jones says that "after dealing with the stress of the past year," the 41-year-old actress "made the decision to check into a mental health facility for a brief stay to treat her bipolar II disorder."

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is a mood disorder, characterised by extreme shifts in mood, energy and functioning. More recently this term is also used to include the more subtle variants of the disorder, called the soft bipolar spectrum disorders. 

During a manic (“high”) episode a person displays behaviour that is out of character. He/she may be “overly” happy and/or highly irritable, have boundless energy, go for days without sleeping and lose their inhibitions in social settings. People with mania may develop unrealistic beliefs in their capabilities that may impair their judgement, the result of which is engagement in foolish activities or projects which often lead them into financial or other difficulties.

As a manic episode develops, there may be an increase in the use of alcohol or stimulants, which may aggravate or prolong the episode. Typically a manic person denies that there is anything wrong or unusual with him/her. The changes in mood and behaviour are observable by others who know the person well.

How is it treated?

Bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition and the course varies from person to person. It can start with major depression or a manic episode. Manic episodes usually begin suddenly with a rapid escalation of symptoms over a few days. They tend to be shorter and end more abruptly than depressive episodes. It is important to note that over a lifetime patients with bipolar mood disorder have a much higher likelihood of suffering from a depressive episode than from a hypomanic/manic episode.

For some there may be long symptom-free periods between episodes. Episodes have been described to last for days, weeks or months. However, more recent research suggests that some individuals may experience several switches in mood state within one day.

If properly controlled by medication, a person can lead a full, productive life, such as Catherine Zeta-Jones. If left untreated, moods will continue to swing from one extreme to another and cause severe impairment in functioning. The time period between episodes usually narrows and episodes become more severe. In such cases, suicide is a real danger, especially if the person abuses substances and/or suffers from anxiety.

Zeta-Jones 'doing well'

Publicist CeCe Yorke says Zeta-Jones is "feeling great and looking forward to starting work this week on her two upcoming films."

Zeta-Jones is married to Michael Douglas, who battled throat cancer last year and declared in January that he is cancer free after undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. The couple has a 10-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter.

(Sapa, April 2011)

Read more:

Mind/ psychology news

Mind condition centre

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