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Five Truly Crazy Celebrities

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Driving drunk, ranting on television, paying $27,000 for a macaroon – Celebrities do some pretty crazy things, but that doesn’t mean they’re certifiable. Usually. The truth is, mental illness doesn’t distinguish between an A-List superstar and the bellboy hired to carry her bags. Plenty of celebrities have publicized their struggles with mental health, and for us average people, it’s cheering to see that the bold and the beautiful have problems, too. When a superstar with a mental disorder shares his story, without shame, the public learns more about mental illness, and the celebrity creates a great example of empathy and strength. Following is a list of five top celebrities who have opened up about mental health.

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1) Emma Stone – Panic Attacks

Actress Emma Stone looked absolutely stunning on her first Vogue cover last year, but the real beauty came from the story inside. Stone talked about her struggles panic attacks as a child and teen, and how therapy along with acting helped her fight off serious incidents of anxiety. Nowadays when she feels burdened by the occasional panic attack, the actress staves it off with baking – another activity that, like acting, helps her to feel in control of her surroundings.

During a panic attack, a sufferer will feel intense fear, overwhelming stress and a terrible sense of helplessness. It’s nearly impossible to prepare for an attack because they arrive unexpectedly, and besides, worrying about the possibility of an attack can quickly bring one on. Having frequent panic attacks might indicate the presence of panic disorder, but luckily, there are treatment options. Just as Emma Stone found a way to control her attacks, so do many others through engaging in a comfortable, controlled behavior. Because misuse of drugs or alcohol can make a person more susceptible to attacks, it’s important to eliminate those triggers. Many panic disorder patients also benefit from cognitive behavior therapy, or a process of psychotherapy in which the patient practices reorganizing patterns of thought and behavior.

2) Catherine Zeta Jones – Bipolar II

When Catherine Zeta Jones admitted to checking into a treatment clinic to cope with her bipolar disorder, she didn’t want to become either a poster child for the disease, or a victim. In an interview last year, the actress told InStyle magazine that rather than publicly complaining about the woes of bipolar disorder, she simply hoped to show fellow sufferers the importance of removing stigma, and getting the illness under control. Catherine Zeta Jones attributed some aspects of the disorder to the stress of her husband’s battle with cancer, but of course bipolar doesn’t always need a reason to strike.

Bipolar I is the disorder we normally think of when consider bipolar behavior – severe manic symptoms such as uncontrollable talking, extravagant shopping sprees or an extended period of drug and alcohol use, followed by severe depression. Depending on severity, bipolar I may require hospitalization or medication. Unlike bipolar I, bipolar II disorder is characterized by milder episodes of mania, along with a consistent pattern of depression; the bipolar II sufferer will not endure the same ‘highs’ as with bipolar I, but the lows may be just as traumatizing.

3) Howard Hughes – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Martin Scorsese’s 2004 film The Aviator introduced the intriguing historical figure Howard Hughes to a new generation. In his own time, Howard Hughes was famous for many reasons – his business success, his Hollywood ties, and of course, his obsessive compulsive disorder. Hughes was known for a fixation with germs; insisting that household staff wrap spoon handles in tissue and tape, and eventually refusing to leave the house for fear of contamination.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) causes a person to have repeatedly obsessive thoughts, and repeatedly compulsive urges to perform particular behaviors. The disorder often manifests through a preoccupation with germs and cleanliness, and an OCD suffered may wash their hands hundreds of times per day, or refuse to touch door knobs without using a tissue as a barrier. The need to check and recheck behavior is likewise a common symptom of OCD, and so a sufferer may turn a light switch on and off multiple times before leaving a room, or constantly feel the need to make sure a gas burner has definitely been turned off. OCD is often treated with SSRI medication; the same drugs used in treating depression. Psychotherapy to reduce stress and change behavior is another means of treatment.

4) Mel Gibson – Alcoholism

Mel Gibson is not the only celebrity to content with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, but he has made a name for himself for both his highs, and his lows. Since 2007 Gibson has been a mostly exemplary participant in treatment programs, however his struggles with alcohol are hard to forget – driving under the influence, bouts of depression, and contending with arrest.

Although many do not consider alcohol misuse a form of mental illness, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) identifies both alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse as mental disorders. A person with alcohol dependence will experience withdrawal symptoms when not drinking, find their life disrupted by the need for alcohol, and notice a marked increase in the amount of alcohol needed to feel drunk. Luckily, there are many resources for those seeking treatment, including counselors, group therapy, and rehabilitation centers.

5) Brooke Shields – Postpartum Depression

After giving birth in 2003, Brooke Shields experienced feelings of hopelessness, ambivalence toward her newborn, and depression so deep she considered taking her own life. The experience of going through postpartum depression is detailed in Shields’s book Down Came the Rain. Shields explains her mental health issues prior to giving birth, and the pain of feeling unable to bond with her newborn child. Eventually, with help from her husband and doctor, Shields managed to overcome the depression, and in 2006 gave birth to another baby girl.

The symptoms of postpartum depression are much more severe than the normal, so called “baby blues” affecting some new mothers. Postpartum depression can last for months, causing sadness and a loss of energy and interest in nearly everything, including the newly born child. It is a disease that can feel stigmatized, but doctors encourage sufferers to remember that postpartum depression isn’t a reflection of mothering ability. Treatment is key, and counseling as well as antidepressant medication can have a huge effect on overcoming the disorder.

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