Medical Minute: Bipolar Disorder

Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, 43, returned home to her New York City apartment today after dropping her daughter off at school this morning. This is the first photo of Zeta-Jones since her much-publicized admission to a facility for treatment of bipolar disorder.

Her husband, Michael Douglas, described Zeta-Jones's admission to the facility as "a 10,000 mile check-up."

Zeta-Jones revealed her diagnosis exclusively to People magazine in July 2011. "This is a disorder that affects millions of people and I am one of them," she told the magazine.

So what is bipolar disorder, you ask?

Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic-depression, is a mood disorder characterized by significant wild mood swings from depression to hyper mania, lack of energy and poor judgment, such as spending sprees.

Millions of Americans are diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but millions more have no idea they have the disorder (especially within the black community).

Black people who go to their regular practitioner, instead of a psychiatrist, are often misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all.

We all have a friend or family member who seems to be moody and quiet on some days, then on other days she excitedly shows off the new Gucci or Prada handbags and shoes she purchased that you know she can't afford to buy.

That doesn't mean people who spend recklessly are manic-depressive. Often we take action or suggest they seek therapy when their behavior disrupts their daily lives.

People who have bipolar disorder tend to lose interest in activities or they don't finish projects they started. They can be very moody one minute then seem high or euphoric the next minute.

Patients with severe forms of bipolar disorder find their lives disrupted when they spend the rent and car payments on unnecessary items such as brand name clothes and handbags. Or they constantly interrupt their co-workers or classroom because they can't sit still or stop talking.

People with bipolar disorder are often fired from their jobs, which can worsen their depression leading them to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.


The symptoms of bipolar disorder can be categorized in several subtypes, each with a different pattern of symptoms.

Cyclothymic disorder is a mild form of bipolar disorder in which mania and depression can be disruptive, but not as severe as they are with other types of bipolar disorder.

Bipolar II disorder is less severe than bipolar I and is the most undiagnosed of the bipolar disorders. People with bipolar II have an elevated mood, irritability, but their symptoms don't necessarily disrupt their daily functions. They have a less severe form of mania, and their periods of depression typically last longer than periods of low mania.

Bipolar I disorder is the most serious. These people are most often fired from their jobs for causing disruptions. They also have difficulty maintaining stable relationships. Manic episodes can be severe and dangerous, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Manic Phase of bipolar disorder Signs and Symptoms

  • Euphoria (mania)
  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Poor judgment
  • Rapid speech
  • Racing thoughts
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Agitation or irritation
  • Increased physical activity
  • Risky behavior
  • Spending sprees or unwise financial decisions
  • Increased drive to perform or achieve goals
  • Increased sex drive
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Easily distracted
  • Careless or dangerous use of drugs or alcohol
  • Frequent absences from work or school
  • Delusions or a break from reality (psychosis)
  • Poor performance at work or school
  • Depressive phase of bipolar disorder Signs and Symptoms

  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior
  • Anxiety
  • Guilt
  • Sleep problems
  • Low appetite or increased appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of interest in activities once considered enjoyable
  • Problems concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Chronic pain without a known cause
  • Frequent absences from work or school
  • Poor performance at work or school
  • Treatment

    Bipolar disorder requires lifelong treatment, according to the Mayo Clinic. Treatment includes hospitalization, medications and intensive therapy. Patients are treated for their symptoms as well as for substance abuse.

    Medications include Lithium to control mood changes, Anticonvulsants to control seizures, Antipsychotics (Zyprexa, Abilify, Risperdal), Antidepressants, and Anti-anxiety meds (Valium, Klonopin, Ativan, Xanax) to control anxiety.

    This has been your Medical Minute.

    More Info On the Web

    Bipolar Disorder - Mayo Clinic

    Bipolar Disorder - Web MD

    The Problem With How We Treat Bipolar Disorder - The NY Times

    Bipolar Disorder - American Psychological Association


    Any medical information published on this blog is for your general information only and is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice. You should not take any action before consulting with your personal physician or a health care provider. and its affiliates cannot be held liable for any damages incurred by following advice found on this blog.

    Photo: Elder Ordonez/JT/

    • kahmmillion

      Lord.... :yikes: without makeup this chick is oooglag. :hide:

    • luVn_liFe…

      that's ALOT of symptoMs . . some apply to me

    • jeniefrumdabloc

      :tea: let me see here

    • Bombshell Esq


    • missmiami

      <= mental illness is real :phew: I pops celexa, buspar and seroquel and occassionally Xanax. When I don't take my ssri's and antidepressants I definately feel it :coffee:

    • luVn_liFe…


      UR huur is :think:
      DIFFRENT! :lol:

    • missmiami

      dammit i have quite a few of those symptoms like for real for real :smack:

    • jeniefrumdabloc

      Luvyn :nun:

      @Ty if you in here girl my hair swelled up pretty bad this weekend because of the heat, didn't have all these problems with my sew-in :no:

    • iAmChan

      I will never joke about bipolar disorder unless I don't take my meds. :tea:

    • San

      Worked with a Bi-polar woman. She thought I was out to get her :tea: I couldn't stand her, so ignored her. Like you not there ignored

    • luVn_liFe…



      PUT up an :shakebutt: shot!! I seen u post the other day it was a lil sore when Ya run,etc.

    • Bombshell Esq

      luVn_liFe... says:



      Luvn :hugs: I'm ti-yed but Good! How are you sexy lady???

    • NaijaGal

      she went in for rehab from addiction...not saying she's not bipolar but there's no such thing as a treatment facility...hear my cry...I believe she started self medicating with either pills or coke, got caught up and needed to get clean

    • luVn_liFe…

      San says:Worked with a Bi-polar woman. She thought I was out to get her :tea: I couldn’t stand her, so ignored her. Like you not there ignored
      Sometimes that's just how U have to do folKs,specially when u know their coins aint all there

    • San

      @Chan, sorry I haven't got back to you yet. Between my full job and side hustle, I've been swamped

    • luVn_liFe…

      :popcorn: <-Really naked tuna fish :(

      SAY WHAT NAHHH NAIJA,school me?? :heart:

    • 69


      Dear Abiola,

      My man keeps calling me a “nigger bitch” during sex and I hate it.

      I have been married for a year and I am at my wit’s end. My investment banker husband is from a White old money family. I am a first generation Black-American woman whose family is from the island of Jamaica. We met at a reunion for the ivy league school we both attended, and he proposed in six months.

      We have the picture perfect fantasy life. He wines and dines me and we travel and shop the globe. Unlike all of the Black men I dated in the past, my husband is generous, loyal, committed and considerate. He courted me and I never have to pay for anything. He said I could quit my job and I did. He makes me feel like a woman.

      I am a little embarrassed to share our problem. The first time he let the n-word drop was during sex on our honeymoon. When I reacted negatively, he explained that a Black woman he dated in the past enjoyed being called racial slurs. Another time he joked that he had purchased my freedom. He also speculated about whether his family could have owned mine because I have “good hair.” Then he made jokes about my pubic hair. He called it my “negro bush” and referred to himself as a “nigger lover.” He says I am being overly sensitive because he loves me to death and should get a “Black pass” for marrying me.

      I told him that I don’t appreciate these comments and he says that my friends and family probably use the n-word all the time. He also asked why Black people can use the word and he cannot. I don’t use the word or believe in the nigga/nigger differentiation. Neither does my family. I am too embarrassed to tell anyone about this because I know they might say: “That’s what she gets for marrying a White man.”

      Every time we try having sex again, the slurs fly. Our sex life is pretty much over right now because I pretend to be asleep every time my sexy, handsome man wants to be with me. I feel completely turned off. I love my husband deeply so please don’t tell me to leave him because that’s not what I want to do.

      My husband was my first interracial relationship. Please tell me racial slurs aren’t normal between interracial couples? I would like to figure this out before we have kids but I can’t afford to leave him and still maintain my lifestyle.

      How can I regain my sexual attraction for my husband?


      Black and Proud

      My Dearest B.A.P.,

      There is nothing about this situation that is okay. Of course you’re turned off. The biggest sex organ for us as women is between our ears. Unlike men, if we’re turned off outside the bedroom we will usually be turned off in the boudoir as well.

      So, you’re worried about maintaining your lifestyle?! Sis, let’s talk about maintaining your sense of self.

      First of all, you are not being overly sensitive and it is condescending for your husband to say that while he’s calling you racist names. There is nothing normal about being called out of your name in any relationship.

      Second of all, queen, your husband needs a history lesson and you need counseling. His comments are verbally abusive and emotionally harmful. I agree that this issue needs to be addressed before you bring children into the picture.

      There are no “Black passes.” When our White friends ask why they can’t use the n-word, I always wonder why they would even want to. Even though your husband’s ”last Black girlfriend loved it,” he should respect your choices. Black people are not a monolith. In addition, no one should ever compare a partner to an ex.

      This man is betraying you and you are not honoring yourself. This is not a judgment of his ex-girlfriend. Anything that two consenting adults agree to sexually is their business. Bold African-American sex educator Mollena Williams, who describes herself as “the perverted negress” and a “slave” on her Twitter page, is an expert on “race play.” She teaches that “for those who are drawn to explore deeper and deeper crevasses of our psyche, the desire to explore that taboo can be compelling.” However, this is not what you signed up for or something you sound even remotely interested in.

      Your husband’s behavior and your acceptance of it have eroded the intimacy between you. The foundation of love is trust and a feeling of security. There is no way to feel safe while being reminded of the subjugation of your ancestors during vulnerable moments when you have clearly asked him to stop. The fact that you have expressed your dislike and that your husband persists is hateful and troubling.

      Don’t let his hate speech drown out your inner wisdom. I understand that you feel ashamed but keeping this secret is only deepening your trauma. Confide in someone. Shine a healing light on this situation so that you are not isolated and feeling trapped and alone.

      Reality check: I know that you don’t want to leave your husband. It’s a beautiful thing that you are taking your vows seriously. He, however, is not. He is not loving, honoring nor cherishing you. If traveling the globe playing “Real Housewife of the Big House” while he drops n-bombs is not your idea of fun then you need to ask yourself some serious questions.

      Your sex life will not improve unless your man changes his behavior and you feel heard. So, can his behavior be changed? Write this down: The only man you can change is one wearing diapers. Abusers have to want to change themselves. Hubbie has to first realize the depths of what he is doing wrong. It doesn’t sound like he does.

      In addition, you may want to examine your own racial attitudes. I am sorry that you had challenging experiences with your previous partners. However, when we lump all Black men together as cheap or disloyal we may as well be calling them the n-word ourselves.

      If you stay with your man for money while he is speaking down to you, then I’m afraid you have personally sold yourself at an auction to the highest bidder. It’s time for a self-esteem check, doll face. You deserve better. Counseling will give you tools to determine your relationship’s future. For your friends and family, the problem is not that you are in an interracial relationship. The issue is that your husband is a cold and classless bigot, bully and boor. Jerks come in all colors.

      Passionately yours,

      Is this real life? :ghost:

    • San

      Catherine Zeta-Jones usually is pretty looking

    • Cubarican

      she went in for rehab from addiction

      OK, that better explains this pic!!

    • iAmChan

      @ San, it's all good. I have been swamped myself recently, I haven't even been able to update the Chronicles in a long time. This hard work will soon pay off tho. Soon, I will be announcing my newest endeavor to the blog. I have already claimed it, so it will soon come to pass!

    • NaijaGal

      Is this real life?
      that chit is old...was on essence dot com months back

    • San

      @Chan :thumbsup:

    • NaijaGal

      LUV N - most people with the personality disorder like to self medicate with drugs...there's no cure or treatment for it outside of prescribed drugs which makes them feel nothing so for them to come up with bullchit about her going to treatment for it is annoying

    • missmiami

      :pc: lemme try to change gravi

    • goat76

      Damn... I'm Bi-Polar

    • San

      That story dumb as hell. All I got

    • 69

      NaijaGal says:

      Is this real life?
      that chit is old…was on essence dot com months back
      Ion read Essence so I ain't know. :shrug:

      Sorry for trying to induce conversation :kona:

    • 3halos

      OK... So I'm bipolar.

    • Miapluck

      Going by those symptoms, it seems as if half of the worlds population may be "bi-polar" nowadays...hmpfh modern medicine and their ideas of normality...

    • NaijaGal

      69 bring your fat ass back here...what are your thoughts on the nigguh bitch

    • MzDimplez1123

      I have an aunt that is bipolar and my bio dad committed suicide. I :pray: I don't have it. I try to keep myself as "level" as possible. :yes:

    • Cubarican

      @3halos. OMG that pic. Feet look like Mr.Penquins.

    • luVn_liFe…

      NaijaGal says:69 bring your fat ass back here…what are your thoughts on the nigguh


      ur such a BissH!

    • A.J.

      Good Post Sandra!! :yes: Love the return of Medical Minutes. :tea:

    • 69


      You and those neuroma toes. :nono: Those lurkers are about email the heyul out of Sandra about them bitches because they are offensive as hell. Best to do it before Sandra does her "after everyone has left this post warning" and then you end up :banned: without even being notified. :coffee:

    • GellySammich

      Miapluck says:

      Going by those symptoms, it seems as if half of the worlds population may be “bi-polar” nowadays…hmpfh modern medicine and their ideas of normality…
      Yes but no. "Normal" behavior and the behavior of someone who's manic depressive is quite different. Yes we all suffer from a few of these symptoms every now and then but there are usually long periods of balance in our lives. Those diagnosed have extreme highs and lows... and OFTEN.

    • NaijaGal

      ur such a BissH!
      :shocked: *clutches anal beads* why I never...good day seniorita, I said good day :kona:

    • luVn_liFe…

      Its QUITe

    • Bombshell Esq

      3halos :wtf: is that in your gravi?????? :nono:

    • libra80sbaby


    • A.J.

      Black people who go to their regular practitioner, instead of a psychiatrist, are often misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all.
      I know a few right now that do not have a clue....

    • 69

      NaijaGal says:

      69 bring your fat ass back here…what are your thoughts on the nigguh bitch

      If you look at interracial porn, how many white women profess their love for nigga dick? So I don't understand why this yt man has an issue saying that he likes nigga puss? :shrug:

      If he married yo black ass then he must not see race as a problem. Hoes just find reasons to be unhappy IMHO. :coffee:

      What you think? :waiting:

    • GellySammich

      I have a family member diagnosed as well Dimpz. Hearing her life story, she's got plenty reason to be the way she is though. I feel bad she was kinda forced into being crazy :(

      oh and :kiss:

    • Tink Tink

      & all this time, I would crack joke on a friend and say "are you on your period again" and she just might be bi polar. For real for real she has about 85% of those symptoms.

    • Miany

      MzDimplez1123 says:
      I have an aunt that is bipolar and my bio dad committed suicide. I I don’t have it. I try to keep myself as “level” as possible.
      ^^ That is sad to hear. I will :pray: with you. Mental illness is real.

    • MzDimplez1123

      Wow and I get offended when Big Buddy calls me Yellow Girl. Guess life isn't always as bad as we think. :no;

    • MzDimplez1123

      :kiss: @ Gelly

    • MzDimplez1123

      Thanks Miany! :hug:

    • NaijaGal

      69 - I think she sold herself to the highest massa...she stays for the lifestyle he provides so she shouldn't complain

    • DoNotDeleteMe

      Being bi-polar does not mean that a person is crazy. It is just a diagnosis based on a cluster of symptoms. I hear people now hurling out the bi-polar diagnosis an an insult. If a person is having a "bad day" or "don't want to be bothered" I have heard others say such hurtful things as, "So she/he is being bi-polar today." This diagnosis is nothing to poke fun at and reading some of the comments on this post, it should be easy to see why people are not more open with their diagnosis. You can lead a normal life in spite of this diagnosis. Is it challenging? Of course, yet not impossible.

      Sandra, I appreciate this post and I hope that you will have more Medical Minutes on other forms of mental illness. :applause:

    • flsun99

      I think my oldest daughter is bipolar. She has the symptoms of Bipolar II Disorder. I worry about her constantly. She is almost 22 and doing so much better than she was last year. She's working, has her own place...but I still worry. She stressed me out so bad I started having anxiety and panic attacks (she tried to kill herself in 2011). It hurts me to my heart to see my child going through things and she won't let me help. I just keep her in prayer and talk to her daily.

      Mental illness is so real and not a laughing/joking matter.

    • flsun99


      I agree with everything you typed.

    • GAGIRL87

      Thanks for the post Sandra :applause: b/c ALOT of our people are not being diagnosed properly with this disorder!

    • Audacious2

      Poor thing, never been right since her hubby denied & defended to the end about hooking up with his alledged african-american(hooker) stalker.

    • GAGIRL87

      Mental illness is so real and not a laughing/joking matter.