Every month the clinical team at Gateway Psychiatric gets together to review cases and to hear presentations on topics related to the treatment of patients with mood disorders and this past month we heard from Dr. Sheri Johnson at the University of California, Berkeley who talk to us about the CalMania project and her own work with patients with bipolar.
In particular, she suggested that a key feature of people with bipolar disorder is an increased sensitivity to reward. In comparison with people without bipolar, those who have bipolar are more likely to take action based on the potential reward, and are likely to continue to pursue that reward longer.
She talked about the Behavioral Activation System which underlies this reward sensitivity.
She suggested that this increased sensitivity to potential rewards is why people with bipolar may take risks that to others seem unreasonable.
She also talked about how bipolar genes or traits are associated with extremes not only in terms of moods but also in terms of life stories. More people with bipolar genes are successful as leaders and in creative fields, but also more people with bipolar genes and up homeless and incapacitated.
If you’re interested in these ideas, with her permission, we recorded her presentation which you can review below.
Sheri Johnson is the author of numerous articles.
Her website gives you more information about her and her work.