Abstract and Keywords
In this chapter, we provide an overview of the phenomenology of the mood disorders, including attention to both symptoms and functional impairment. Our overview emphasizes the heterogeneity among those with these disorders, as well as the most influential approaches to describing this variability across and within bipolar and depressive disorders. We discuss the degree of overlap between bipolar and depressive disorders, paying special attention to the clinical significance of low levels of manic symptoms. We also review several influential symptom-based specifiers, including those that refer to melancholic, atypical, anxious, and psychotic features. Having considered variability in the symptoms of these disorders, we then consider the course of these disorders. We survey the remarkable variability in course as well as current approaches to characterizing these differences. We conclude with a discussion of future directions.
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