A pair of celebrities made headlines recently with the announcement of their completion of treatment for a behavioral health concern.
Actor Catherine Zeta-Jones announced that she was being treated for bipolar II disorder. Teen actor Demi Lovato announced she had also been in treatment for a variety of mental disorders, including bipolar disorder. And is often the case, when a celebrity of Zeta-Jones’ stature brings attention to a major and fairly common disorder, a groundswell of support and awareness is felt by those afflicted.
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and affects the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Bipolar II, the particular diagnosis that Zeta-Jones is diagnosed with, means that she experiences recurring bouts of depression alternating with mild mania.
“With bipolar, generally, the mood swings up or down. Most of the time people with bipolar are depressed,” said Jerry Halverson, MD, the Medical Director of Adult Services at Rogers Memorial Hospital - Oconomowoc. “There are often issues of self-worth, how you look at the world, and how you look at yourself.”
Symptoms of bipolar disorder are different from the normal mood swings experienced by most people. Zeta-Jones told reporters that she’d found herself unable to shake the depression that followed her husband’s battle with throat cancer, so she decided to find treatment.
“We have good treatments that can help people, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives,” said Halverson. “It’s not all about medication. We help people figure out what’s going on in their lives and treat the whole person.” Recovery from bipolar disorder often requires continued treatment, and for many people psychotherapy with medication can prevent and delay relapse.