Catherine Zeta-Jones' bipolar disorder: How severe?

Actress Catherine Zeta Jones arrives on the red carpet for the 68th annual Golden Globe awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California January 16, 2011. AFP PHOTO / Robyn BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images) Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

catherine zeta-jones
Actress Catherine Zeta Jones at an awards ceremony in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Jan. 16, 2011.
Getty Images

(CBS) Add Catherine Zeta-Jones to the list of stars with bipolar disorder. The 41-year-old actress recently spent five days in an unnamed mental health facility getting help for bipolar II disorder, People magazine reported.

Zeta-Jones decided to check in to the facility "after dealing with the stress of the past year," her representative said in a statement reported by People. The rep may have been referring to the stage 4 cancer diagnosis Zeta-Jones' husband, actor Michael Douglas, got last year.

Bipolar II disorder is a form of bipolar disorder marked by irritation and a mildly elevated mood - a state known as hypomania. It's generally less debilitating than bipolar I, a condition marked by mood swings and a severe mood elevation known as mania, according to the Mayo Clinic website.

Bipolar I can cause severe impairment - and can lead to suicide. People with bipolar II can generally continue to function, Dr. Thomas Wise, professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical School, told CBS News. "It can cause excessive energy and lots of optimism and being really flighty in terms of ideas," he said. "The symptoms can be a little annoying to others, but people can still work."

Wise said stress can sometimes trigger symptoms of bipolar disorder, but typically in people who have a hereditary predisposition to the disorder.

With appropriate treatment - often drug therapy with lithium or another mood stabilizer and psychotherapy - people with bipolar II generally have an excellent prognosis, said Dr. Wise, who is not involved in Zeta-Jones' care.

As for Zeta-Jones, her rep told the magazine, "She's feeling great and looking forward to starting work this week on her two upcoming films." 

For more on bipolar disorder, click here.

  • David W Freeman

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