Bipolar Disorder

Course materials are available as articles, and audio with transcripts.
This is a basic course on Bipolar Disorder, which has been known historically as Bipolar Affective Disorder and Manic Depression. The course provides a comprehensive definition and description of the symptoms associated with the various types of Bipolar Disorder. The prevalence, demographics, neurobiological function and etiology associated with Bipolar Disorder are reviewed. Both pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical treatment options are identified and the risks and benefits associated with each are noted. A critique of the diagnosis and treatment in use for children is presented.
This course consists of eleven articles and two audiotaped interviews (text transcripts provided) about the diagnosis of and treatment for Bipolar Disorder. In the first section of this course the diagnosis, prevalence, demographics, neurobiological function and etiology associated with Bipolar Disorder are reviewed. The second set of documents examines a variety of treatments for Bipolar Disorder. The third set presents non-pharmaceutical treatment options for Bipolar Disorder. The fourth section presents a dissenting opinion about the actual diagnosis and the treatment of Bipolar in children. The final set includes an article on the quality of life for those who suffer from Bipolar Disorder and a glossary of terms. Additional resources and references are provided for further study, but they are not part of the course.


  • Cosgrove, V. E., & Suppes, T. (2013). Informing DSM-5: biological boundaries between bipolar I disorder, schizoaffective disorder, and schizophrenia. BMC medicine, 11 (1), 127.
  • Miziou, S., Tsitsipa, E., Moysidou, S., Karavelas, V., Dimelis, D., Polyzoidou, V., & Fountoulakis, K. N. (2015). Psychosocial treatment and interventions for bipolar disorder: a systematic review. Annals of general psychiatry, 14 (1), 19.
  • Pålsson, E., Figueras, C., Johansson, A. G., Ekman, C. J., Hultman, B., Östlind, J., & Landén, M. (2013). Neurocognitive function in bipolar disorder: a comparison between bipolar I and II disorder and matched controls. BMC psychiatry, 13 (1), 165.

Educational Objectives

  • Identify Bipolar Disorder and describe symptoms generally associated with it.
  • Identify differences in symptoms for those with Bipolar Disorder vs. Unipolar Depression.
  • Describe the differences between Bipolar I Disorder, Schizoaffective Disorder and Schizophrenia.
  • Summarize the ways in which the treatment of Pediatric Bipolar Disorder differs from the treatment of Bipolar Disorder in adults.
  • Identify the different classes of medications used to treat Bipolar Disorder and their side effects.
  • Review some of the classic and contemporary non-pharmaceutical treatments for Bipolar.
  • Recite some of the alternative explanations for symptoms that might otherwise be perceived as evidence of Bipolar Disorder.
  • Describe concerns voiced about diagnosing children with Bipolar Disorder.


  • Introduction to Bipolar Disorder
  • Definition, Descriptions, Demographics and Prevalence
  • Differentiating between Bipolar Disorder, Schizoaffective Disorder and Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar Disorder in Children and Adolescents
  • Medications and Side Effects:
    • SSRIs and SSNRIs
    • Atypical Antidepressants
    • Mood Stabilizers
    • Antipsychotics
    • Antidepressant/Antipsychotic
    • Antiseizure/Antiepileptic
    • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Non-pharmaceutical Treatment
    • Psychoeducation
    • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
    • Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy
    • Intensive Psychosocial Intervention
    • Mindfulness-based Interventions
    • Assertive Community Treatment (ACT)
  • Critique of medical-psychiatric-pharmaceutical approaches
  • Glossary of terms