Last spring, actress Catherine Zeta-Jones checked into a Connecticut mental health facility to be treated for bipolar II disorder, which is characterized by swings between depression and hypomania (a mildly manic state). Previously, Zeta-Jones had described her bouts with depression, telling the Sunday Times in the U.K., “I’m lucky … but that’s not to say I don’t get down on myself. ... I don’t just bring myself down, I bring everyone around me down. It’s like a dark cloud, ‘Uh-oh, here we go,’ and I have to snap out of it.”
This time around, stress seemed to contribute to the flare-up: The year before, her husband, actor Michael Douglas, had been diagnosed and treated for stage IV throat cancer. Meanwhile, the couple had been battling a lawsuit in which Douglas’ first wife, Diandra, was suing Douglas for a percentage of the royalties from his movie Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.
While there’s often a genetic vulnerability to bipolar disorder, “Episodes can occur at any time, and they’re often triggered by extreme stress,” ivillage wellness expert Carol Landau says. “There’s no question that Zeta-Jones was under enormous stress. I think it’s great that she sought treatment and went public with this.”