Bipolar disorder focus of public seminars

Bipolar disorder focus of public seminars

Psychology graduate students at the RDS Center discuss bipolar treatment options.

September 1, 2017 • by Sue Postema Scheeres

Bipolar disorder affects about 5.7 million American adults, or 1.8 percent of the population. Yet, many people are misdiagnosed, don’t have access to information about the mental health disorder or can’t afford treatment.

Through a free public seminar series that starts Sept. 11, the Robert D. Sutherland (RDS) Center for the Evaluation and Treatment of Bipolar Disorder, housed in CU Boulder’s Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, hopes to increase understanding about the disorder.

The eight-week series will be held Mondays from 6:30 to 8 p.m. through Oct. 17 at Longmont Church of Christ, 1351 Collyer St., in Longmont. The seminars are free, although a suggested donation of $10 per session is requested. Registration is not required. Each session focuses on a different aspect of the care and treatment of the disorder.

The series was started in 2008 to provide information to those with a bipolar disorder, their families, mental health professionals and anyone interested in knowing more.

“Education is such a powerful tool in managing this and other illnesses,” said Alisha Brosse, a licensed clinical psychologist and the center’s associate director who leads the series. “The goal of the series is to increase visibility of the center and the diagnosis, and to let people know there are resources available."

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is characterized by extreme shifts in mood, energy level, behavior and functioning. These shifts are called mood episodes, and there are three types of episodes that comprise bipolar disorder: manic, hypomanic and major depressive episodes.

The disorder typically emerges in adolescence or early adulthood, although it may also appear in childhood or later adulthood. The specific causes of bipolar disorder are not known, although research suggests genes as well as environmental factors can play a significant role in the development of the disorder and the triggering of mood episodes, Brosse said.

The RDS Center opened its doors in 2002 and offers evaluation services as well as individual, group and family therapy to about 70 adult clients each year who receive treatment on a sliding-fee scale. The center is primarily funded through the Robert D. Sutherland Memorial Foundation and also receives funding through a CU Boulder Outreach Award.

Psychology graduate students who work at the center are required to attend the seminar series as part of their clinical training, Brosse said.

“We have graduates of our training program all over the country with specialty skills in treating bipolar disorder,” she said. “The more you know about what you are treating, the more quickly you can educate people about themselves, which leads to better outcomes.”

Please visit the center website for more information about the seminar series. Series recordings can also be purchased online. 

This story originally appeared in CU Boulder Today to promote the series that took place in January.

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