Trauma and Bipolar Disorders
December 12, 2006
The psychosocial research in bipolar disorder has been summarized in “Psychosocial predictors of symptoms” by Sheri Johnson and Björn Meyer in Psychological Treatment of Bipolar Disorder edited by Sheri Johnson and Robert Leahy in 2004 for The Guilford Press.
Johnson and Meyer (2004) concluded:
“...we have provided an overview of several different predictors of symptom course in people with bipolar disorder. Many variables are associated with increases in symptoms over time, including expressed emotion, negative life events, poor social support, negative cognitive styles, and personality difficulties. Many of these variables seem to exert a stronger influence on depression than mania, and it seems that many of the psychosocial variables that predict unipolar depression may influence the course of bipolar depression. Mania appears specifically influenced by sleep deprivation and increased activity within the behavioral activation system. Although the evidence is not as robust, writers over the past 100 years have suggested that manic symptoms can occasionally reflect a reaction to negative life events and cognitions. Such a reaction could reflect biological instability or a more psychological process-namely, that manic activity may be triggered as a defense against overwhelming feelings of loss or failure....In sum, psychosocial variables appear to play an important role in the exacerbation of symptoms in bipolar disorder, and positive social environments and psychological traits may help reduce the toll of this disorder” (pp.87-98).
See also The Psychology of Bipolar Disorder: New Developments and Research Strategies edited by Steven Jones and Richard Bentall (2006), published by Oxford University Press.
Brian Koehler PhD
New York University
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New York NY 10003