Catherine Zeta-Jones Seeks Treatment for 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. She recently stunned the public by announcing that she suffers from bipolar II disorder and is participating in inpatient treatment for the illness.

Bipolar II disorder is a mental illness that is characterized by mood swings, from depressed or 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.

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.