Understanding Bipolar Disorder

Why some people experience extreme mood states and what can help.

‘I have often asked myself whether, given the choice, I would choose to have manic depressive illness … Strangely enough I think I would choose to have it. It’s complicated. Depression is awful beyond words or sounds or images … So why would I want anything to do with this illness? Because I honestly believe that as a result of it I have felt more things, more deeply; had more experiences, more intensely; loved more, and been loved; laughed more often for having cried more often; appreciated more the springs, for all the winters; worn death ‘as close as dungarees’, appreciated it – and life – more; seen the finest and the most terrible in people, and slowly learned the values of caring, loyalty and seeing things through.

Kay Redfield Jamison (Jamison, 1996)

“… There have been significant developments in recent years, particularly in our understanding of psychological aspects of what has traditionally been thought of as a largely biological or medical problem. Much has been written about the biological aspects: this report aims to redress the balance by concentrating on the psychological aspects, both in terms of how we understand the problems and also approaches to help and treatment.”

Written by a working party of clinical psychologists drawn from universities and the NHS and brought together by their professional body, the British Psychological Society Division of Clinical Psychology, contributors were chosen because of their particular expertise on the subject of bipolar disorder. Experts by experience – people who have themselves received a diagnosis of bipolar disorder – were also members of the working party and contributed substantially to the report.

You can read the report here (as a downloadable pdf file).

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