I better clear up this important point of confusion. Bipolar is not caused by trauma, per se. It is theorized to be caused by excessive stress on the system in combination with vulnerability in the person. That might be a trauma or it might be a person becoming a lawyer or going to college. The level of stress that affects a person differs from person to person.

I interviewed 300 college students with serious mental illness for my dissertation because I wanted to know about their risk factors for dropping out. As an example, I had one woman who said she never had anything bad happen in her life, but when she got to college, she overwhelmed herself by taking too many classes one semester, never sleeping or eating, and panicking all the time she was failing all of her classes. Her bipolar disorder started then.

The only disorder specifically caused only by trauma and a vulnerability in the person is PTSD. It requires trauma-based treatment. I have been lucky to receive this treatment, so I would say my PTSD is in remission. There are evidence-based treatments for PTSD and they can work for other mental illnesses. For example, mindfulness therapy is a promising new one. That one doesn’t work for, say, catatonic schizophrenia, though. I don’t think therapy works well for schizophrenia, in general. It responds better to meds. But anyone with a mental illness can benefit from therapy to just talk about how much it sucks to have the mental illness.

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