Catherine Zeta-Jones: A Case of Bipolar II Disorder

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Until April 2011, Academy Award-winning actor Catherine Zeta-Jones was best known for stellar performances in Traffic and Chicago, her high-profile marriage to actor Michael Douglas, and his recent struggle with throat cancer. In 2011, Jones stunned the public by announcing that she suffers from bipolar II disorder and is participating in inpatient treatment for the illness.

What is bipolar II disorder?

Bipolar II disorder is a mental illness that is characterized by mood swings, from depressed, anxious, and irritable to excessively elevated to a moderate degree (hypomania). While it is thought to occur a in a little over 1% of the United States population, slightly more than the 1% incidence of bipolar I disorder, that translates into millions of people who suffer from the condition. About two-thirds of individuals with manic depression (either bipolar disorder or bipolar II disorder) develop symptoms of the illness by the time they reach early adulthood. People with bipolar II disorder are at risk for engaging in substance abuse.

How common is bipolar II disorder?

Bipolar II disorder is thought to be more common in women than in men. As with depression, the hypomanic symptoms of bipolar II disorder can occur in the postpartum period. Children and adolescents with bipolar II disorder tend to experience episodes that are rapid cycling, having at least four mood problem episodes in a 12-month period.

In order to qualify for the diagnosis of bipolar II disorder, individuals must experience at least one episode of major depression and at least one hypomanic episode during their lifetime. Symptoms of major depression last at least two weeks and include depressed or irritable mood and a number of associated symptoms, like change in sleep or appetite, suicidal thoughts, plans, or actions, low energy, tendency to isolate from others, and loss of interest in formerly pleasurable activities. Diagnostic criteria for a hypomanic episode include symptoms like elevated or irritable mood, grandiosity, decreased need for sleep, excessive speech, racing thoughts, trouble focusing, excessive activity, suicidal thoughts, plans, or actions, and behaviors that indicate poor judgment that last for at least four days.

Catherine Zeta-Jones: A Case of Bipolar II Disorder Resources

Doctor written main article on Bipolar Disorder

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/28/2016

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