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Dr. Thomas Richardson

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Dr Thomas Richardson is a clinical psychologist and researcher at the University of Southampton. He teaches 'CBT for bipolar disorder’ on the CBT diploma and is actively involved i...

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What is your background?

So I'm a clinical psychologist. I've worked in the UK National Health Service in a community mental health team for adults for several years working with bipolar disorder and other mental health problems. I'm also a researcher and I'm now an associate professor researching and teaching about psychological therapies for bipolar disorder, and I've got my own lived experience of bipolar disorder as well.

What is bipolar disorder?

So bipolar disorder is a mental health problem characterised by significant changes in mood and energy. So episodes of depression where people might feel like they have no energy, no confidence, lack of motivation, very hard to motivate to get yourself out of bed, very self-critical. And also episodes of hypermania or mania where people almost the polar opposite, might have lots of energy, lots of big ideas, much more active, much more socialising, go without sleep. So bipolar disorder is where people can have these discreet episodes of depression and hypermania or mania, which can go on for weeks, sometimes months, but people can be very stable for long periods of time. In between those episodes.

Are there different types of bipolar?

Yes. So there are different types of bipolar. There is bipolar one where there are episodes of mania. So mania being the more severe manic symptoms. So people might become very unwell. They might need to go into hospital, they might become psychotic and it causes them a lot of problems. So bipolar one is the more severe mania, usually with depression as well, not always. Sometimes people just get the mania, but most often it's with depression as well. Bipolar two is hypomania. So this is perhaps not quite as severe manic symptoms. People won't end up in hospital necessarily, but it does still cause problems. So bipolar two is the hypermania. With episodes of depression as well, there are some people who may be what's called not otherwise specified bipolar disorder, not otherwise specified, where they might not fit into one box particularly clearly. And there's this idea of cycl thia as well, where people have these kind of mood changes. They're not maybe quite strong enough to get a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

Is manic depression the same as bipolar?

What is cyclothymia?