Bipolar and Monopolar Disorders

Psychologists commonly recognize four subclasses of the illness. A basic distinction is made between unipolar and bipolar affective disorders, and within each of these there are at least two categories of severity. Since polarity by definition refers to orientation with respect to two opposites, the term unipolar makes about as much sense as a magnet without North or South, or the sound of one hand clapping. It is used to distinguish patients who experience only the lows of depression from those who alternate low with high episodes, the term bipolar supposedly carrying fewer stigmas than manic depression.

The least disruptive form of depression is a pattern of constant lack of interest in activities and inability ...

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