Bipolar symptoms: What to look for (pictures)

woman, sad, window, seasonal affective disorder, istockphoto, 4x3
woman, sad, window, seasonal affective disorder, istockphoto, 4x3
Bipolar disorder symptoms can range from low to very high - a state called mania.

(CBS) What is bipolar disorder? What are the symptoms? What causes it?

People are searching for answers to those questions, now that glamorous actress Catherine Zeta-Jones has revealed she is one of the millions of Americans who have the mental illness.

PICTURES - Bipolar disorder: Symptoms of mania

A mood disorder, bipolar disorder causes extreme mood swings - from the lows of depression to the extreme highs of mania. It's caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain and tends to run in families, though it is sometimes triggered by psychological stress.

Zeta-Jones, 41, sought treatment after her life hit a rough patch, her representative told People magazine. Zeta-Jones' husband, Michael Douglas, was diagnosed with stage 4 throat cancer last year.

Bipolar disorder can be devastating, disrupting lives and sometimes leading to suicide. But the good news for Zeta-Jones and fellow bipolar sufferers is that the illness can often be managed with medication - typically a mood-stabilizer - and psychotherapy.

In addition, certain lifestyle strategies often prove helpful, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. These include keeping a regular daily routine, taking steps to minimize psychological stress, avoiding caffeine, and joining a support group.