The psychology of bipolar disorders
This chapter begins by providing an overview of the phenomenology of bipolar disorder and examines the concept of a broader spectrum of bipolar disorders. It summarises some of the main advances in psychological understanding of bipolar disorders. Bipolar disorder involves periods of extreme disruptions to mood, behaviour and cognitive functioning. Nearly everything written on bipolar disorder has begun by stating how it has long been a neglected area of research within psychopathology, largely conceptualised in biological terms with little understanding of psychological mechanisms. People with the disorder typically experience periods of severe depression, mania or hypomania, in addition to periods of relatively stable mood. Most phenomenological research includes only those people who meet formal diagnostic criteria. Such approaches are founded upon the assumption that bipolar disorder is a discrete disorder that is distinguishable from other forms of affective disorder.