Catherine Zeta-Jones: "There Is No Need to Suffer Silently"

The actress -- who was just cast in Rock of Ages -- speaks out for the first time about her struggle with bipolar disorder

In early April, Catherine Zeta-Jones checked into Silver Hill Hospital, a mental-health facility in New Canaan, Conn., to be treated for bipolar II disorder -- a mental illness characterized by extended periods of depression followed by bouts of mild mania, and often brought on by stress. The news itself was shocking, but perhaps equally as surprising was Zeta-Jones' willingness to go public with her struggle.

"After dealing with the stress of the past year, Catherine made the decision to check in to a mental-health facility for a brief stay to treat her bipolar II disorder," a rep for Zeta-Jones said at the time. That "stress" no doubt included her 66-year-old husband Michael Douglas' scary battle with throat cancer (he was declared cancer-free in January), as well as her busy life as a mother and -- let's not forget -- movie star.

Now, in this week's issue of People magazine, Zeta-Jones is speaking out about her struggle for the first time, encouraging those who may be suffering from similar issues to face the problem head-on. "This is a disorder that affects millions of people, and I am one of them," the actress, 41, says. "If my revelation of having bipolar II has encouraged one person to seek help, then it is worth it. There is no need to suffer silently and there is no shame in seeking help."

In past interviews, Zeta-Jones had hinted at moments of depression. "I'm lucky. But that's not to say I don't get down on myself," she told U.K. newspaper the Daily Mail last year. "I try and stay positive, being negative isn't good for my personality. 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 have to snap out of it."

With the added stress of Douglas' illness, Zeta-Jones found that she was struggling to get through the day, one of the signs of mounting depression. A friend told People: "The simple things would just seem overwhelming, like going out to dinner... There was just a little piece of her chipped away. It was hard to watch because I knew how hard she was trying."

Though bipolar disorder is something Zeta-Jones will battle her whole life, she is now out of the treatment facility and already back to work. The actress seemed to be in a great mood Wednesday on the Shreveport, La., set of her new romantic comedy Playing the Field, which costars Gerard Butler and Jessica Biel. She's also got Lay the Favorite with Bruce Willis on her docket. And Entertainment Weekly confirmed today that Zeta-Jones has also signed on to appear opposite Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Julianne Hough and Russell Brand in the adaptation of the Broadway musical Rock of Ages. She'll play the wife of a conservative L.A. mayor looking to do away with rock 'n' roll.

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