Catherine Zeta Jones’ Mental Health Rehabilitation Brings to Light Bipolar II

Although 2.5% of the population suffers with often debilitating symptoms of bipolar II, until yesterday, it remained a relatively unknown condition. The surprising news that Catherine Zeta Jones, a Hollywood icon, is herself a member of that statistic, brought attention and is increasing awareness about this mental health issue. In an article released yesterday, psychologist Jennifer Hartstein described the differences between bipolar I and bipolar II. “We think of the highs and lows, the real mania. Bipolar II is characterized with more depressive episodes. That’s where it kind of fits. And there’s at least one episode of a hypomanic episode, which is not the very high out-of-control mania that we might come to expect. But much more elevated mood or rapid speech, or thoughts that are kind of all over the place.”

People experiencing hypomania may appear to be highly agitated, which often gets mistaken for anger or moodiness. Many people do not receive a diagnosis until later in life because their symptoms often get misdiagnosed as depression. David Miklowitz, professor of psychiatry and director of the UCLA Child and Adolescent Mood Disorders Program, explained in another article that treating bipolar II with anti-depressants may actually exacerbate the mania. The most common form of treatment for bipolar II is medication, including mood stabilizers and anticonvulsants, in combination with psychotherapy. Harstein believes those who follow this regimen have the best chance for recovery. “The two in combination seem to be the best and most effective way to treat it,” she said.

Psychiatrist Gail Saltz was optimistic about the effect this type of media coverage can have. In a related article, she said, “I think it’s tremendously brave of her to come forward and I’m delighted that she’s doing that. There are many people getting a new diagnosis, and we want them to know they have every hope, if they get treatment, of having wonderfully productive lives.”

© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Ronald

    Ronald

    April 18th, 2011 at 3:58 AM

    So if there is misdiagnosis happening and if anti-depressants actually fuel the fire,then it is a very distressing situation and I just hope there is something soon for this, to prevent this kind of a thing becUse it could get very widespread.

  • sally

    sally

    April 18th, 2011 at 4:46 AM

    I did not realize until I started hearing about her diagnosis that there were differnt types of bipolar disorder. You would have to think that she has been under a lot of stress dealing with her husband’s cancer so this is probably one of those triggers for something that may have never emerged had it not been for this event in her life. I am happy to hear though that she is seeking treatment and that hopefully she will get well and be home soon.

  • Steve

    Steve

    April 18th, 2011 at 2:59 PM

    How is this different from just being depressed?

  • GORDON

    GORDON

    April 18th, 2011 at 7:24 PM

    I didnt know about different types of bipolar either.I think this kind of a news is actually good because it spreads awareness in people and could probably play a role in preventing the same for others!

  • M Bresnan

    M Bresnan

    April 19th, 2011 at 4:20 AM

    Yet another example to show how much people follow celebrity news but not something that is actually beneficial to them-like their health!

  • kirk

    kirk

    April 19th, 2011 at 4:34 AM

    feel really bad for that family, they have been through a lot the past year

  • Larissa

    Larissa

    April 20th, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    I would be curious to know how long she has been battling this? of course it is not like she has to share all of the personal details but I do happen to think that when a celebrity speaks out about something like this that they have had to deal with, it sheds light on the issue for other people and could leave them with more education and a willingness to seek help.

  • Kris

    Kris

    April 20th, 2011 at 8:31 PM

    Didn’t know there was a bipolar II. It does annoy me that something that affects 1 in 50 people is largely unknown until a celebrity gets hit by it. Suddenly it’s worth attention.

  • Isaac

    Isaac

    April 20th, 2011 at 10:19 PM

    Not to mention it can be mistaken for depression, and heck everyone and his wife seems to be depressed now. I blame this never ending poor economy.

  • fiona

    fiona

    April 20th, 2011 at 11:20 PM

    @Isaac: A similar thing happened with HIV. Some major celebrity got it and it went from “Something only gay men get” to “A major human health issue”. Memory fails me on who it was back then.

  • Abby

    Abby

    April 21st, 2011 at 9:54 PM

    There’s no such thing as bad publicity, even if you’re an illness. If a celebrity having bipolar II is what it takes to raise awareness, then that’s not a bad thing.

  • kayleigh

    kayleigh

    April 21st, 2011 at 11:45 PM

    Good for you Catherine for sharing that and thank you for your honesty! She could have kept it private, you know. Every time a high profile celebrity steps up and admits to having a mental illness it does that bit more to lessen any undeserved stigma associated with it IMHO.

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