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Clinicians often disagree about whether someone fits the criteria for a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

Part 2: Causes Section 5: Life/social circumstances and bipolar n People in difficult life circumstances are much more likely to experience all kinds of mental health problems. n The same applies to people who have had a difficult childhood. n Having a supportive network of family and friends can make it less likely that mood problems will return. Conversely, people are more likely to experience ongoing problems if their family members are either highly critical or overprotective towards them. n Therapists should therefore consider family as well as individual therapy work in bipolar disorder. In either case it is important to pay attention to life circumstances as well as what the individual themselves might be able to do differently. Section 6: Psychological factors in bipolar experiences n When people are depressed, they tend to see the negative in everything, including themselves and this can lead to a vicious cycle keeping the depression going. Conversely when people are very active and experiencing elation, there is a natural desire to see this as ‘the real me’ and to want to do even more. There is evidence that these ‘thinking styles’ are particularly pronounced for people whose moods are extreme enough to attract a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. n There is evidence that some people with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder show these more extreme thinking styles even at times when they are not experiencing very high or low mood. n People can learn to ‘catch’ this kind of thinking as it develops and take action, for example making themselves rest when their thoughts begin to race. Section 7: Biological factors in bipolar disorders n Someone with a sibling or parent with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder is over ten times more likely to receive the diagnosis themselves compared to someone from an unaffected family. Whilst there may be a number of reasons for this, it does suggest that people’s genetic makeup may play a role. However, attempts to isolate contributing genes have, as yet, proved unsuccessful. n There is evidence that certain neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) – for example serotonin and dopamine – may play a role. However, all thoughts and emotions involve chemical changes in the brain and cause-and-effect relationships are unclear. n Some people with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder appear to have slight differences in brain structure and function. However, again, cause-and-effect relationships are unclear: for example, some differences could be the result of prolonged use of certain medication. n The varying nature of people’s experiences, both within and between individuals, indicates that they are likely to be the result of a combination of factors that interact across time.

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Understanding Bipolar Disorder

Understanding Bipolar Disorder  

This report was written by a working party of clinical psychologists who were chosen because of their particular expertise on the subject of...

Understanding Bipolar Disorder  

This report was written by a working party of clinical psychologists who were chosen because of their particular expertise on the subject of...