Glenn Close Wants to Bring Change 2 Mind

Academy Award nominated actress, best known for her chilling role in Fatal Attraction, Glenn Close and her sister Jennie Close made the rounds of talk shows today, appearing on The View, Dr. Nancy, and Good Morning America. They came on to talk about a new public service announcement (directed by Ron Howard), they made to support a national movement called Bring Change 2 Mind. The group is dedicated to public awareness about mental disease, and to remove the stigma associated with it. As their website states:

“1 in 6 adults and almost 1 in 10 children suffer from a diagnosable mental illness. Yet, for many, the stigma associated with the illness, can be as great a challenge as the disease itself. This is where the misconceptions stop. This is where bias comes to an end. This is where we change lives. Because this is where we Bring Change 2 Mind

Glenn and Jennie know first hand about the impact of mental illness on a patient and their family. Jennie was diagnosed with bipolar disease (also called manic depression) and her son has been diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder: he has symptoms of both bipolar disease and schizophrenia. Mood disorders such a bipolar disease and unipolar depression are also known as affective disorders among psychiatrists.

Bipolar disease is a mental disorder where patients exhibit both high and low mood extremes. An overly joyful or overexcited state is called a manic episode, and an extremely sad or hopeless state is called a depressive episode. Mood is not the only thing affected by the disorder. Appetite, activity level, enjoyment of everyday things, sex drive, and sleep are all affected. Bipolar disease is not the everyday ups and downs that most people have. It occurs over a prolonged period of time, and disrupts the everyday lives of those affected- interfering with job or school performance, interpersonal relationships, and can even lead to suicide.

Symptoms of mania or a manic episode include: Symptoms of depression or a depressive episode include:
Mood Changes

  • A long period of feeling “high,” or an overly happy or outgoing mood
  • Extremely irritable mood, agitation, feeling “jumpy” or “wired.”

Behavioral Changes

  • Talking very fast, jumping from one idea to another, having racing thoughts
  • Being easily distracted
  • Increasing goal-directed activities, such as taking on new projects
  • Being restless
  • Sleeping little
  • Having an unrealistic belief in one’s abilities
  • Behaving impulsively and taking part in a lot of pleasurable,
    high-risk behaviors, such as spending sprees, impulsive sex, and impulsive business investments.
Mood Changes

  • A long period of feeling worried or empty
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, including sex.

Behavioral Changes

  • Feeling tired or “slowed down”
  • Having problems concentrating, remembering, and making decisions
  • Being restless or irritable
  • Changing eating, sleeping, or other habits
  • Thinking of death or suicide, or attempting suicide.

Source: NIMH
There are probably a number of factors which can lead to bipolar disorders:

  • a genetic predisposition- bipolar disorders tend to run in families
  • a biochemical differences in the brain- new types of imaging studies are showing that the brains of bipolar individuals react differently from the unaffected. This may be due to certain neurotransmitters, or possibly to hormonal imbalances.
  • environmental factors, which can include severe stress, or self-esteem problems.

Bipolar disease is treatable. There are many medications that can help with symptoms, however this is only part of the treatment. Psychotherapy, cognitive therapy, group or family therapy, as well as relaxation techniques, and biofeedback may also be useful/necessary in a patient’s treatment.

A number of other celebrities have been very open about their struggles with mental illness as described in our previous story about the ethics of psychiatrists who publicly speculate on the mental health of public figures.

Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison is a Professor of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine chronicled her struggles with bipolar disorder in her book An Unquiet Mind and is also the co-author of a classic medical textbook on the disease (see below). Dr. Jamison has also written about manic-depressive illness and the artistic temperament.

Free e-book on Bipolar Disorder

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Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

2 Comments

  1. Carol Harrison

    August 20, 2011 at 2:16 am

    Having a disease, an addiction or a mental illness/disorder, is what makes a “celebrity” human long before they become actors. Mental illness should no more be a stigma in Hollywood than in regular people’s lives.

    • Dr. M

      August 21, 2011 at 10:55 pm

      Agreed Carol. Thanks for your comment!

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