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Professor Goodwin's recent blog post on the mental health elf blog is very helpful in terms of summarising some of the problems we have with structured psychological therapies across most psychological disorders not just bipolar disorder. He is also a much respected figure and scientist in the field of Bipolar disorders in UK and internationally. It is also very encouraging that despite his significant involvement and contribution to pharmacological treatments of bipolar disorder, more recently he has been involved in the therapeutic role of psycho-education.

However, it is very disconcerting to read that psychoeducation as a psychosocial treatment modality in bipolar disorder is based on some coherent model of Bipolar disorder, whereas the other structured psychosocial treatments (CBT, IPSRT, FFT) are lacking in this respect.

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Non-adherence in the treatment of bipolar disorder is a very common phenomenon, which has been addressed by various researchers. The negative consequences may include relapse, hospitalization, impairment in everyday functioning, and it can be costly.

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picture courtesy of Christina Tsevis (Crosti) – see https://www.facebook.com/christina.tsevis

picture courtesy of Christina Tsevis (Crosti) – see https://www.facebook.com/christina.tsevis

In our clinical work at BipolarLab, we often come across bipolar patients who seek help when they are depressed. Depression may be the most common symptom, and the most frequent episode of bipolar disorder, but it is not always the most urgent phase to treat. Manic episodes may be more urgent, and more dangerous. Nevertheless, it takes an experienced, and a well trained bipolar patient to seek help once manic. Depressive episodes with increased suicidal ideation or psychotic symptoms can be equally urgent, but for the most common depressive episodes urgency is a matter of choice.

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Reading so many articles about holidays and depression but at the same time working almost exclusively with bipolar patients, I wondered too. Is Christmas good for your Bipolar disorder? What can I really tell you or to our patients about this?

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Bipolar disorder is a condition characterized by recurrent episodes of depression and/or abnormally elevated mood (known as mania) that interfere with psychosocial functioning (see our guide). Depressive symptoms, along with cognitive difficulties in planning, problem solving, attention and memory, are known to be related to low psychosocial functioning and in particular occupational functioning (Bauer et al., 2001; Goldstein & Burdick, 2008).

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Bipolar disorder has been found to be “the sixth most disabling medical condition”(Murray & Lopez, 1997). Bipolar patients often have other medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease and both depression and mania are phases that are associated with significant problems in activity. Therefore, one cannot help but realize the need to look into more depth the complex relationship between physical activity and bipolar disorder. Even though many studies in the past have tried to look at this relationship, it is only recently that advances in accelerometer technologies are beginning to help us to measure accurately activity patterns in bipolar disorder.

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We wish you a very merry and cheery Christmas and a Happy New Year with a moodeat turkey recipe specially prepared for you to help you cope with the Christmas Blues.

We know it takes a lot more than a moodeat turkey, but every little thing you do helps!

Remember to prepare it with a group of supportive friends and loving family members.

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I recently attended one of the lovely webinars hosted by the International Bipolar Foundation. The speaker Dr Nassir Ghaemi (Professor at Tufts university) presented his book, a First Rate Madness: Mood disorders and Crisis Leadership and discussed the issue of leadership and mood disorders.

According to his talk people with mood disorders and in general mentally abnormal people make better leaders especially at times of crisis. He gave examples of many American and European political leaders who achieved "greatness" and their psychohistory suggests also had a mental disorder - in most cases a bipolar disorder.

I have trouble digesting this argument, not for personal reasons, I also love my bipolar patients and wish to think and speak well of them, but for scientific reasons.

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By VALERIE KILABERIA, BSC., MSC. BIPOLARLAB JUNIOR PSYCHOLOGIST

Even though the majority of research highlights the negative aspects of bipolar disorder, it is not uncommon to listen to patients who talk warmly about their experiences.

A new study conducted by Lobban, Taylor, Murray & Jones (2012) at the University of Lancaster, UK investigated the positive experiences of people who suffer from bipolar disorder. The participants reported that they experience many positive feelings, including intensified abilities, such as higher academic abilities; acute senses, perceptual sensitivity, focus and clarity of thought. They also reported feeling more creative and productive. The research indicated that a sub-group of people with bipolar disorder prefers to be with the condition as they experience invaluable feelings. Some of the participants work or worked in high professional positions and provided information concerning the times when it was incredibly easy for them to work hard. They felt that they could achieve high levels of productivity and were very ambitious.

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Being critical of yourself or being on the receiving end of other people’s criticism is a challenge. Add a mood disorder in the recipe and the impact of criticism becomes even more explosive.

Early research by Julian Leff at the Institute of Psychiatry and David Goldberg at UCLA on schizophrenia focused on the role of “expressed emotion” in families. They coined this term to essentially describe a negative and critical communication style that appeared to characterize many of the families who had members suffering from schizophrenia.

 

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It’s that time of the year again – spring. Our interest in life literally springs up, our moods and love life improve and many patients with bipolar disorder begin to experience their first signs of hypomania.

Call it a seasonal effect, blame it on light or the forthcoming changes in our social routines, spring appears to be a period that every bipolar and their family should keep an eye on.

So what better time than now to write about our bipolar fleas – the early warning signs of manic and depressive relapses?

 

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Dear Bipolar friends,

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to our new bipolar blog hosted by Psychcentral.comBipolar Trek: The Voyages of BipolarLab.

I met Dr John Grohol quite early in my online psychology days back in 1996 when he was starting Psychcentral.com, and I was beginning my psychology degree in rainy Scotland. Since that time a lot has changed and I was always happy to see Psychcentral’s tremendous growth driven by John’s passion and energy for mental health education.

 

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