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Video: Fans shocked after Zeta-Jones seeks mental help

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    >>> back now at 8:08. with a brief stay at mental health facility for katharine zita jones . she sought treatment for bipolar disorder . nbc's miguel almaguer has details.

    >> reporter: an academy award winner, katharine zeta jones is one of hollywood's most beautiful, most bankable stars, but on wednesday she shocked fans with offscreen news. her publicist revealed katharine made the decision to check into a mental health clinic to treat bipolar 2 disorder.

    >> you get these brief orders of highs and lows. 2 is where you have all the lows, which is depression and you have smaller highs.

    >> that's a movie star and i get to sleep with him every night.

    >> reporter: zeta jones is married to oscar winner michael douglas .

    >> i've about got cancer. found out about it three weeks ago.

    >> reporter: last august the 66-year-old announced he was diagnosed with stage 4 throat cancer . during treatment he lost 32 poumds as he battled the deceased.

    >> reporter: married for ten years katherine was by michael throw it all. it made their family stronger.

    >> being as strong as i always thought he would be, his sense of humor during tough times, and think it just brings your love much, much, much closer.

    >> life threatening.

    >> reporter: in january douglas told matt on "today" his cancer was in remission.

    >> i feel good, relieved. the tumor is gone.

    >> reporter: but the chemotherapy and radiation had lasted for months, especially hard on the family with two young children.

    >> i think that they're coping as any family would, which is by leaning on one another and drawing strength from their relationships.

    >> we're private, as much as we can be, and we just battle through. but nobody battled through as much as michael.

    >> reporter: she was there for him. now he'll be there for her. out of treatment at home, zeta jones is said to be doing well.

    >> it's perfect.

    >> reporter: ready to go back to work as one of hollywood's brightest stars . for today, miguel almaguer, nbc news, los angeles .

    >> doctor nancy snyderman is a chief editor and gail saltz. they deserve a certain amount of privacy.

    >> and we concur with that, yes.

    >> so let's use this opportunity, though, not to talk about her specific situation because we don't know but talk about bipolar 2 disorder. what exactly is it?

    >> it's a form of a mood disorder where you have episodes of major depression , true depression, alternating potentially with what's called hypomania or a low form of a high, and in bipolar 2 unlike bipolar 1, that high could be intense irritability, sleeplessness, or it could be kind of an elation, grand asti. that's why it can be difficult to spot. it can look like a functional person who's super up.

    >> is this a predispowe something's for getting. is this something that can come out of the blue or --

    >> both. you know, a lot of people will have a family predisposition to it and stress can be a trigger for this. a lot of times we see true -- they used to call this manic depressive disorder . we can see bipolar disease in really creative people. i think about your really manic comedians who have really high highs and really low lows. we're not talking about those kinds of extremes here but certainly the stress, if you look at katharicatherine zeta- jones of a husband with cancer, an ongoing litigation, small children, turning 41.

    >> she's had plenty this year.

    >> this has been a power packed year for that kind of stress.

    >> stress makes bipolar disorder potentially worse. but i want to be clear. stress doesn't give you bipolar disorder . you're usicly genetically pre disposed or already have the illness.

    >> checked into a mental health facility for a brief stay to treat her bipolar 2 disorder. i think what catches people is a brief stay. is it an episode? you can have this, go somewhere and in a couple of days -- what is it?

    >> there are two possibilities.

    >> you kick start treatment.

    >> one is the illness has gotten worse and there's an episode going on and it needs intins treatment in order to control it. usually with education and psycho therapy . however, you can go in the hospital even if you're not to tune up medications because it's not a simple matter. it's a mood-stabilizing drug, sometimes two drugs. sometimes you have to add an antidepressant if you're in a depressive period. people can sometimes become toxic.

    >> there's a stigma attached any time you start to describe a mental illness but the indication is this is someone, whether it's contactet rinne zeta- jones or anyone else with this who can live productive very normal lives.

    >> there's a ridiculous stigma in this country about this. i would say there's less of a stigma about her husband's cancer than her getting bipolar disease and we have to sort of get over it. people get sick. our job as doctors is to get them well.

    >> that's a problem in the brain. like you had a problem with your stomach. and i'd like to say that i think it's tremendously brave of her to come forward and i'm delighted that she's doing that because there are many people who do lead productive lives or have a new diagnosis and we want them to know that they have every hope if they get treatment of having wonderfully productive lives.

    >> and that would be the expectation here.

    >> i would like to say i like them both very much.

    >> they've been great friends of this program.

updated 4/14/2011 10:53:57 AM ET 2011-04-14T14:53:57

Oscar-winning actress Catherine Zeta-Jones suffers from bipolar disorder, and checked herself into a mental health facility earlier this month, her publicist has confirmed.

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The news may be shocking to fans who associate the actress and wife of Michael Douglas with her image of polished glamour. But bipolar disorder – which used to be called manic depression – can take many different forms, psychiatrist Gail Saltz told TODAY.

"It can look like a very high-functioning person who is just super 'up,' " Saltz said.

Zeta-Jones is diagnosed with bipolar II disorder, which is less severe than bipolar I. People with her condition swing between major depression and what’s called hypomania, which can include intense irritability, sleeplessness, relentless optimism or grandiose elation.

Zeta-Jones’s publicist, CeCe Yorke, blamed stress for the actress’s recent hospital stay. In the past year, her husband was diagnosed with advanced throat cancer; he’s also been battling a lawsuit from his ex-wife seeking half of his recent movie earnings. Zeta-Jones and Douglas have two children, ages 7 and 10.

Catherine Zeta-Jones treated for bipolar disorder

Stress can indeed be a trigger for bipolar episodes, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC’s chief medical editor, told TODAY. And a brief stay in a hospital would not be uncommon, either to bring a manic episode under control, or to tune-up medications for more effective treatment, Snyderman and Saltz noted. Bipolar disorder can usually be controlled with a combination of medication and therapy. Lithium is one of the most common treatments.

Researchers aren’t quite sure what causes bipolar disorder -- a combination of genetic and environmental factors seem to come into play. They do know the disorder is associated with an imbalance in the brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.

Bipolar disorder affects about 2.5 percent of the U.S. population, around 6 million people. Mental-health advocates hope Zeta-Jones’s public struggle will help dispel some of the myths and fears about mental illness.

Charlie Sheen sets up bipolar awareness walk

"There is a ridiculous stigma in this country about this," Snyderman said. "We have to get over it. People get sick, our job as doctors is to get them well."

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Saltz applauded Zeta-Jones for announcing that she has bipolar disorder after the National Enquirer reported that she had checked in to a psychiatric hospital.

"I think it’s tremendously brave of her to come forward and I’m delighted that she’s doing that," Saltz said. "There are many people getting a new diagnosis, and we want them to know they have every hope, if they get treatment, of having wonderfully productive lives."

Yorke, Zeta-Jones’s publicist, said the 41-year-old actress is "feeling great and looking forward to starting work this week on her two upcoming films."

© 2013 MSNBC Interactive.  Reprints

Photos: Michael Douglas

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  1. The ants go marching

    Michael Douglas waves to the crowd during the"Ant-Man" panel during Comic-Con International 2014 at San Diego Convention Center on July 26, 2014 in San Diego, California. Douglas plays Dr. Hank Pym, who invents the Ant-Man technology and takes on the role until passing it down to Scott Lang, played by Paul Rudd. (Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Famous faces

    Douglas, Diane Keaton, and Rob Reiner attend the "And So It Goes" premiere at Guild Hall on July 6, 2014 in East Hampton, New York. Douglas and Keaton star in the romantic comedy, and Reiner directed. (Sonia Moskowitz / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Tickling the ivories

    Douglas stars as Liberace in "Behind the Candelabra," and won an Emmy for his role in the 2013 HBO film. (Claudette Barius / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Golden night

    Douglas poses with the Golden Globe award he won for best actor in a miniseries or TV movie for his role in "Behind the Candelabra" at the 71st annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California January 12, 2014. The film also won the best miniseries or TV movie award. (Lucy Nicholson / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Two generations

    Douglas poses with his dad, acclaimed actor Kirk Douglas, at a 2011 event honoring the younger Douglas with an award named for his father. The Santa Barbara International Film Festival has given out the Kitk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film since 2006. (Michael Buckner / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Fashionable faces

    Douglas and wife Catherine Zeta-Jones attend the Michael Kors Fall 2011 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011 in New York. (Evan Agostini / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Fore!

    Douglas on the practice range during the first practice round of The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at The Old Course on September 27, 2011 in St Andrews, Scotland. (Ross Kinnaird / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. On the mend

    Douglas gives a thumbs-up as he arrives with his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, for the 68th Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles on Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011. The veteran actor, who finished treatment for throat cancer in late 2010, said at the awards that he's cancer-free and feeling great. (Mike Nelson / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Wild about wizards

    Douglas and Zeta-Jones, along with their children Dylan, 10, and Carys, 7, ride the Flight of the Hippogriff over The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and past Hogwarts Castle at Universal Orlando Resort in Florida on Nov. 27, 2010. The family visited the theme park over the Thanksgiving holiday as Douglas continued to recover from cancer treatment. (Matt Stroshane / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Dad's duty

    Douglas is seen in New York as he takes his daughter to school on Nov. 9, 2010. One month removed from radiation and chemotherapy treatments to combat his stage IV throat cancer, the multiple Oscar winner believes he's on the mend. (Arnaldo Magnani / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Leading man

    Douglas, center, poses with actresses Carey Mulligan, left, and Susan Sarandon at the premiere of "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York on Monday, Sept. 20, 2010. (Evan Agostini / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Gordon Gekko is back

    Douglas brought back one of his most iconic characters, Wall Street financier Gordon Gekko, in 2010's "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps." Douglas won a best actor Oscar for his role in the original 1987 film, in which Charlie Sheen played a young stockbroker who aspires to be like Gekko. In the sequel, Shia LaBeouf plays the fiance of Gekko's daughter who strikes a deal with the mogul. (Barry Wetcher / 20th Century Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Battle lines are drawn

    Douglas waves to the "Late Show" audience after a hug from host David Letterman during the Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2010, taping of the show in New York. Douglas said he faces an "eight-week struggle" of radiation and chemotherapy in his fight against throat cancer but is optimistic about his chances for recovery. (CBS via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Kicking up fun

    Douglas, right, speaks with Kyle Beere, age 13, and his uncle Andrew Wools from Cardiff, Wales, during a visit to the Children's Hospital for Wales in Cardiff, where Douglas and his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones met staff and children on Friday, July 23, 2010. Zeta-Jones was born in Wales. (Ben Birchall / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Family woes

    Douglas is seen here in April 2009 with his son, Cameron. On April 20, 2010, Cameron Douglas was sentenced to five years in prison for possessing heroin and dealing large amounts of methamphetamine and cocaine out of a New York hotel room. Michael Douglas publicly assumed blame for "being a bad father" but said he was thrilled his son was in prison, because without such an extreme level of intervention "he was going to be dead or somebody was gonna kill him." (Gabriel Bouys / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. In 'Solitary'

    Douglas took on a serious role in 2010's "Solitary Man," playing a car dealer whose life suddenly falls apart. (Millennium Films) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Gold in them thar ... Costcos?

    In 2007's "King of California," Douglas played a man who was convinced that the San Fernando Valley holds buried treasure. When he's released from a mental institution, he convinces his daughter to go hunting for it with him -- underneath the floor of a Costco store. (First Look Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Goofy guest

    Douglas played Kate Hudson's doting father in 2006's "You, Me and Dupree," with Owen Wilson as a houseguest who overstays his welcome. (Universal Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Like father, like son

    Michael, left, and Kirk Douglas pose for a portrait in Los Angeles on April 12, 2005. The documentary film "A Father, A Son: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" profiles the two actors and their relationship. (Greg Gorman / HBO via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Honored in Switzerland

    Douglas received the Crystal Award at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Saturday Jan. 28, 2006. The Crystal Award is presented by the forum to artists who use their work to reach out to other cultures. (Michel Euler / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Family affair

    Kirk, Michael and Cameron Douglas all played roles in 2003's "It Runs in the Family," a comedy about the problems of three generations of a wealthy New York group. (MGM) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. May-December?

    Douglas and his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, seen here with him in 2003, are exactly 25 years apart. He was born Sept. 25, 1944, and she was born Sept. 25, 1969. Zeta-Jones says that when they met, Douglas told her "I want to father your children." They now have two, Dylan Michael and Carys Zeta. (Lucy Nicholson / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Magic number

    Douglas starred with the late Brittany Murphy in 2001's "Don't Say a Word." He plays a psychiatrist who must somehow retrieve a six-digit number from Murphy's character's mind in order to save his own daughter's life. (20th Century Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Full of 'Wonder'

    In 2000, Douglas starred in "Wonder Boys," playing a professor and novelist who finds his life veering towards disaster. (Paramount Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Stopping 'Traffic'

    Douglas and wife Catherine Zeta-Jones were among the stars of the 2000 film "Traffic," which won four Oscars and was made into a television miniseries. (20th Century Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. 'Perfect' crime

    In 1998's "A Perfect Murder," Douglas plays a rich older man who discovers his wife (played by Gwyneth Paltrow) is cheating on him, and seeks revenge. (Warner Bros. Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. In dad's footsteps

    In 1997, Michael Douglas had his footprints placed in cement at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, Calif. His father, Kirk Douglas, stands behind his son. The older Douglas had his own hand and footprint ceremony in 1962. (Vince Bucci / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Kings of the jungle

    Douglas and Val Kilmer starred in 1996's "The Ghost and the Darkness," about lions that attacked workers on an African railway in 1898. Reviews were mixed -- while the film won one Oscar (for sound editing), it also earned a Razzie Award nomination for Kilmer. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Mr. President

    In 1995's "The American President," Douglas played a U.S. president who falls in love with a lobbyist played by Annette Bening. (Sony Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Working world

    In 1994's "Disclosure," based on a Michael Crichton novel, Douglas and Demi Moore star as executives with a prior relationship who become embroiled in a sexual harassment case. (Warner Bros.) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Pure 'Instinct'

    Douglas and Sharon Stone star in 1992's "Basic Instinct," which became infamous for a scene in which Stone's character flashes detectives during her interrogation. (Sony Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Not so rosy

    "The War of the Roses" has become a synonym for a troubled and protracted divorce. In the 1989 film, Danny DeVito plays a divorce lawyer who tells a client the story of a couple, played by Douglas and Kathleen Turner, who fight a deadly battle to end their marriage. (20th Century Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Greed is good

    Douglas first played Gordon Gekko in 1987's "Wall Street," in which his millionaire character takes up-and-coming stockbroker Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) under his wing and shows him how to make big money. The film, and Gekko in particular, later came to symbolize the go-go 1980s. (20th Century Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. I won't be ignored, Dan

    Like "Wall Street" and "The War of the Roses," 1987's "Fatal Attraction" has passed into the English language. The phrase has come to refer to a romantic relationship where one partner refuses to admit things are over. Douglas played a married man who has a fling with Glenn Close's character, who begins stalking him and his family -- including in one infamous scene, the family bunny rabbit. (Paramount Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. Marry in haste...

    Douglas married his first wife, Diandra, in 1977 after dating just six weeks. They divorced in 2000. Their son, Cameron, was sentenced to five years in prison on drug charges in April 2010. (Jim Smeal / WireImage) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. 'Stone' cold

    Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito, who would later reunite in "The War of the Roses," also starred together in 1984's "Romancing the Stone." The film was written by Diane Thomas, a waitress who died just six weeks before the film's sequel was released in 1985. Thomas died in a Porsche that Michael Douglas had purchased for her, although she was not driving. (20th Centurty Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Digging a hole to 'China'

    Jack Lemmon, Douglas and Jane Fonda star in 1979's "The China Syndrome," about journalists who discover safety issues at a nuclear power plant. The film's title comes from the concept that a nuclear plant's core could melt through the earth and reach China. Twelve days after the film's release, the Three Mile Island nuclear accident occurred in Pennsylvania. (MGM) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. One flew East...

    Douglas won an Oscar for his work as producer on 1975's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." The film swept the major categories at the Oscars that year, winning for best picture, director, actor, actress and adapted screenplay. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. On the 'Streets'

    Before striking it big in movies, Douglas was a small-screen star. He starred with Karl Malden in the 1970s police drama "The Streets of San Francisco." (ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. Just starting out

    Douglas played his first starring role in 1969's "Hail, Hero!" He was nominated for a Golden Globe for most promising male newcomer for his role as a college student who joins the army during the Vietnam War. (Keyston / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. Hollywood family

    Douglas was born into Hollywood royalty, the son of legendary cleft-chinned actor Kirk Douglas, shown here with Michael, right, and younger son Joel, who worked as a producer during the 1970s and 1980s. The boys' mother, Diana Dill, appeared on the cover of Life magazine in 1943. Reportedly Kirk Douglas, then serving in the navy during World War II, saw the cover photo and told his shipmates he would marry her. They divorced in 1951. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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