A study by the Institute of Mental Health suggests that approximately one in ten people suffer from some type of mental disorder in the United States. Bipolar disorder, a condition where individuals experience extreme mood swings, affects an estimated 5.5 million Americans over 18. As a licensed clinical psychologist, Teresa Susmaras treats patients with a wide range of mental disorders, including bipolar disorder.
Those diagnosed with bipolar disorder are plagued with mood swings that fluctuate from severe euphoric states to periods of extreme depression. These changes in mood are often completely unrelated to personal events, but can affect the person’s physical health, the ability to function, behavior, and emotional state of mind. Bipolar disorder is rooted in the brain as a neurological disorder and typically starts affecting individuals in adolescence and into early adulthood. However, the disorder can also begin during childhood or even in middle age.
Four distinctive mood episodes have been identified in those who suffer from bipolar disorder, including mania, hypomania, depression and mixed episodes. The disease has no cure, but can be managed with treatment; the National Advisory Mental Health Council estimates that the success rate for treatment of bipolar disorder is a promising 80 percent. Mood stabilizers and antidepressants are the most widely used medication to treat the disorder.
Teresa Susmaras has devoted her career to helping those with brain disorders through her work as a neuropsychologist. Susmaras earned both an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Suffolk University in Boston.
American psychologist Lightner Witmer is credited with being the first to treat a patient with clinical psychology when he cared for a young boy with a learning disability in the late 19th century. Shortly afterwards, Witmer founded the first ever psychological clinic, located at the University of Pennsylvania and specializing in the treatment of children. The term clinical psychology was first used in 1907 when Witmer used the phrase in his new publication, The Psychology Clinic.
Clinical psychology is the combination of clinical knowledge, science and theory for the intention of helping, understanding and preventing psychological dysfunction. Clinical psychologists treat patients through psychological assessments aimed at gaining an understanding of the mental and emotional health of the patient. Mental and emotional disorders, behavioral disorders, anxiety and depression are some of the conditions treated by clinical psychologists.
When assessing patients, clinical psychologists employ a variety of techniques to determine the root of the particular problems they are experiencing. Methods may include psychological testing, interviews with family members and friends, observation of the patient and intelligence testing. Interviewing friends and family allows for an outside perspective of the patient’s personality. Through these methods, clinical psychologists seek to determine the possible causes and foundation of the patient’s mental state.
Teresa Susmaras became interested in clinical psychology while working as a research assistant as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago. She went on to earn both an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Suffolk University and is now a licensed psychologist.