Psychological causes of Bipolar Disorders
Because biological causes appear to play a larger role in bipolar disorders than in unipolar depression psychological and environmental factors have not been emphasized as explanations of bipolar disorder. One early psychoanalytic theory suggested that bipolar disorder represented a flight depressed feelings (Freeman 1971). According to this view manic behavior serves as a kind of defence mechanism that helps a person escape or avoid pain or loss. While this account fits with the common sense notion that one way to cheer you up is to go on a spending spree or vigorously pursue a distracting activity, it has failed to win any scientific support.
Psychological or social factors have some effect on the course of bipolar disorder, although their roles appear less consistent and central than in unipolar depression (Monroe & Depoe 1991) stressful events, especially those that disrupt social schedules or upset biological rhythms, exert some not yet fully understood influence on the course of bipolar disorders (Jhonson & Roberts 1995). Robert Post (1992) has argued that repeated or chronic stressors ultimately lead to biological changes that cause neurotransmitter systems to become increasingly sensitive to stressors. As a result of this process the brain becomes easily affected by stressors until eventually even minor events can trigger the mood swings seen in bipolar disorder.