“There is no need to suffer silently and there is no shame in seeking help.”
Catherine Zeta Jones
From the outside, you would just assume that Catherine Zeta-Jones has lived a charmed life. Beautiful and married to one of the most iconic actors of all time, it would appear to the rest of us that she had it all. And she might have, but even when you have it all, that doesn’t mean you can appreciate it or recognize it. For many, mental illnesses like bipolar depression, can make every day a struggle, regardless of who you are and what you have.
Catherine Zeta-Jones was born in 1969 in Swansea, United Kingdom. She began acting at a very young age, playing roles in musicals like Bugsby Malone and Annie. In 1991, she moved to Los Angeles and began her reign as a Hollywood leading lady. Adding to her list of accomplishments is an Academy Award, An Academy Film Award, and a Tony Award. Currently, she lives with her husband, Michael Douglas, with their two children. She is also known for her beautiful presence, awarded People Magazine’s “Most Beautiful People” in 1998.
Diagnosed With Bipolar Depression
Catherine is one of the best examples of how bipolar depression can strike at any time. And how it is often due to prolonged stress. At the age of 41, Catherine started to experience wild mood swings, soon after her husband was diagnosed with cancer and amidst his battle with his former wife over money from the highly anticipated “Wall Street” movie sequel. She went through times of extreme highs and extreme lows. The type of bipolar depression that Jones was diagnosed with is type two. Type II is often accompanied by longer periods of depression than mania.
When interviewed about her diagnosis, she admitted that it was a relief that what she was feeling and going through actually had a name. Mostly, she insisted because that meant there was a treatment for it.
“The fact that there was a name for my emotions and that a professional could talk me through my symptoms was very liberating.”
What is Bipolar Depression?
According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, stress is one of the most common triggers leading to the diagnosis of bipolar depression. And the symptom’s hallmarks are feelings of high agitation, sleeping disturbances, changes in appetite, and suicidal thoughts.
The mood swings that Jones was dealing with were highly disruptive to her daily life. She would have extreme highs that were inevitably followed by longer lows. When a person with bipolar moves from one mood swing to the other, it is called an “episode.”
And those episodes can last anywhere from a week or several weeks at a time. The type of bipolar depression that Jones was diagnosed with differs from type one. To be diagnosed, you have to experience a minimum of one hypomania and depression episode without the need for manic periods (which needs to be present in bipolar type one).
Symptoms of Bipolar Depression
There is no cure for bipolar depression, but there are medications that help to curb the symptoms so that living a normal and happy life is possible. Although it isn’t entirely clear what the causes of bipolar depression are, cases have similarities like, it:
- Can come about at any point in someone’s life
- Can be caused by genetics – some people are born with it
- Involves an imbalance of serotonin and other brain chemicals
- Can be triggered by stress and trauma
There are two neurotransmitters located in the brain that directly tie into bipolar disorder. They are dopamine and serotonin. When there is an imbalance of these neurotransmitters, it can lead to extreme highs and lows.
- Symptoms of bipolar depression
- Having sad, hopeless, or feelings of emptiness
- Trouble sleeping at night or staying awake during the day
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Suffering in your social relationships familial, friends, and work
- Feelings euphoric, manic, or irritable during different periods
Catherine Zeta-Jones Speaks out!
Catherine Zeta-Jones has been extremely vocal about her battle with bipolar depression, insisting that there is no reason to suffer in silence. There should be no shame in how you feel. Her mission was to do away with the stigma that often accompanies mental illness and keeps someone from seeking treatment.
And Jones’ hope is that anyone suffering from it will reach out to get the support and services that they need. By putting a face to it, she desires to show the world that you can seemingly have it all and the world at your fingertips, but that might not always be your real face or what you are dealing with.
When you look from the outside, those who live in the limelight appear to have everything that you need to find happiness and fulfillment. But what celebrities like Catherine Zeta-Jones demonstrate, is that they are just like anyone else. They have struggles and challenges that negate the happiness that they might have all around.
Depression is Nothing to Be Ashamed of
Jones publicly shared her experience so that no one would feel shame for admitting that they need help. And her hope, like many others, is to take the stigma away from mental health so that we can all live happy and healthy lives by getting the love, support, acceptance, and medical help we need. e.