Catherine Zeta-Jones is the latest celebrity to hit the headlines as a sufferer of Bipolar Disorder. Earlier this month, her publicist announced that the Oscar winning actress made the decision to check in to a mental health facility for a brief stay to treat Ms Zeta-Jones’ Bipolar II Disorder after dealing with the stress of the past year.
Catherine Zeta-Jones has been praised by mental health charities for the bravery of her openness about suffering from Bipolar Disorder – especially as there is unfortunately still stigma and misunderstanding about the condition and mental illness in general. One only needs to look at the derogatory comments on Twitter and Facebook in reaction to this news for an example of the way mental illness is treated by some members of the public.
Mental health professionals have a much better understanding of Bipolar Disorder these days than 20 years ago. This is reflected by the fact that Manic Depression, the old name for Bipolar Disorder, is no longer used by psychiatrists because every sufferer of this condition does not necessarily experience manic AND depressive episodes. Catherine Zeta-Jones for example has a diagnosis which means she would mainly suffer from periods of depression and may only have rare or occasional mild manic episodes. In fact, there is now discussion about a Bipolar Spectrum which covers every variation of this condition from its mildest forms to the most extreme cases. You can find out more information about Bipolar Disorder, its symptoms and treatment on the NHS Choices website.
Approximately 1 in every 100 people will suffer from symptoms of Bipolar Disorder at some point in their life. The condition has been around for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. In recent times, more and more people in the public eye have talked about their diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder and there are also historical figures who are believed to have been affected by the condition. Below are the names of some famous Bipolar sufferers from the past and present:
- Adam Ant – singer
- Russell Brand – comedian & actor
- Frank Bruno – boxer
- Stephen Fry – actor, comedian & writer
- Mel Gibson – actor & director
- Macy Gray – singer
- Ernest Hemingway – writer
- Nina Simone – singer
- Vincent Van Gogh – artist
- Virginia Woolf – writer
As you can see from the list of names, many Bipolar sufferers are creative individuals who have had successful careers or been blessed by incredible talent. As these famous names demonstrate, although Bipolar Disorder can make individuals vunerable and fragile, it is not always the case that someone who is affected by the condition cannot achieve their ambitions and dreams.
There are a number of charities out there that raise awareness about Bipolar Disorder and support those affected by the condition. Most notable are MDF, Equilibrium and Rethink. Other mental health charities include Mind and SANE. Check out their websites for more information and how to make a donation, if you so wish.
Image reproduced from The Guardian: Chris Pizzello/AP
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