Bipolar disorder thrown into the limelight

Today many of us awoke to the news that Catherine Zeta Jones had made public her bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is often caused by periods of prolonged stress and, if untreated, can lead to psychological instability an inability to work effectively and consistently.

Her public announcement may help remove some of the stigma attached to the illness, and to depression in general, and raise awareness of bipolarity. It’s interesting that she apparently only went public with the news because an American magazine had threatened to sensationally spread the information that she had been to rehab. This shows the stigma that’s still attached to mental illness – I wonder whether the news that she were suffering from a physical illness would have caused such a sensation…?

This week is Depression Awareness Week (see www.depressionalliance.org) so this announcement is timely. Perhaps it will make us question the extent to which we understand depressive illnesses. Would we really be able to pick up on the signs of depression in our employees? What would we be looking for in the way of symptoms? How would we distinguish between low level stress and more significant signs of deep-set anxiety and depression?

If you are a small business manager you can call the Health for Work Adviceline advisers (0800 0 77 88 44) who can give you advice on detecting the signs of depression early on, monitoring and assisting the recovery of staff diagnosed with depression, and promoting team morale and good communication in the workplace.

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