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Annu Rev Clin Psychol. 2006;2:199-235.

The psychopathology and treatment of bipolar disorder.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309-0345, USA.


In this chapter we review research on the diagnosis, course, etiology, and pharmacological and psychosocial treatment of bipolar disorder (BD). BD is a highly recurrent and severe illness, with high rates of suicidality and functional impairment. The disorder is heritable and appears to share susceptibility genes with schizophrenia. It is characterized by dysregulation in the dopamine and serotonin systems and by pathology in the brain systems involved in regulating emotion. Psychosocial stressors, notably life events and familial expressed emotion, significantly influence the course of the illness in the context of these vulnerabilities. Findings of randomized clinical trials indicate that psychosocial interventions enhance long-term outcomes when added to pharmacotherapy. Much remains to be clarified about the interactive contributions of genetic, neurobiological, and psychosocial factors to the course of the disorder, and the moderators and mediators of treatment effects.

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