Depressed, Bipolar or Borderline

Image of a face
This event is a part of the Office of Global and Lifelong Learning's Spring 2018 Seminar Series.

April 20, 2018
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
NYU Meyer Hall
4 Washington Place
New York, NY 10003


Clinicians are seeing an increasing number of depressed patients who have been treated with multiple antidepressants, often combined with atypical antipsychotics and other medications. In spite of these polypharmacy regimens, many remain mired in depression and lament that they “have tried every drug there is” without substantial or sustained benefit.

A common, unrecognized reason for this is that a large proportion of these patients are not simply depressed. A National Institutes of Mental Health study revealed that over 40 percent of adults seeking help for symptoms of depression actually had bipolar illness. In the best-designed and largest studies, antidepressants have been proven ineffective in treating acute bipolar depression and in preventing future depressive episodes in those with bipolar illness. They can also cause harm in a substantial minority of patients by provoking more and more mood episodes and, paradoxically, by worsening depression. Even the most skilled therapists often find that their best efforts to help these misdiagnosed and inappropriately treated patients are ineffective over the long term.

This seminar will provide clinicians with a four-part, clinical diagnostic method to distinguish patients with borderline personality and unipolar depression from those with bipolar illnesses. Clinicians will learn about why, despite widespread use, antidepressants, atypical antipsychotics, and lamotrigine (Lamictal) should not form the foundation of treatment for bipolar illness. They will also learn about the medications that work in acute bipolar depression and that have been proven effective in the long-term.

Drawing on research from empirically tested individual and family therapies for bipolar disorder and psychodynamic studies on manic-depressive illness, Dr. Quinn will discuss the many ways psychotherapists can help patients and families struggling with bipolar disorder once patients receive proper pharmacologic treatment.

Fifty to sixty percent of bipolar patients abuse alcohol or drugs. Clinicians will learn simple, straightforward strategies for identifying and managing substance abuse. They will also learn to recognize bipolar patients at the greatest risk of completing suicide and how to intervene in ways to reduce this risk. Finally, participants will learn about potent, non-drug treatments for depression, mania, and rapid-cycling that they can put to immediate use in their practices.


Learning Objectives: Participants will be able to:
  • List the two most sensitive indicators that identify a past history of hypomania
  • Identify the five key features of depressive mixed states
  • Provide two signs/symptoms, course, family history, and antidepressant response markers that indicate bipolar spectrum illness rather than unipolar depression
  • Gain an understanding of three empirically-validated reasons why antidepressants should not be routinely used in patients with bipolar illness and the two classes of medications that have been shown to be effective in either acute or maintenance treatment
  • Describe five critical issues that need to be addressed in psychotherapy with bipolar patients and their families and the empirically-validated psychosocial treatments from which they are derived
  • Describe the benefits and limitations of key non-pharmacologic treatments for bipolar illness


This is an image of BRIAN QUINN.

Brian Quinn, LCSW, Ph.D.  

Brian Quinn, LCSW, Ph.D. author of Wiley Concise Guides to Mental Health: Bipolar Disorder and The Depression Sourcebook, 2nd ed., is a clinical social worker in private practice in Huntington, NY. He has 35 years of experience in mental health and substance abuse treatment.

He earned his master's degree in social work at the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. in clinical social work at New York University. He has a post-graduate certificate in psychoanalytic psychotherapy from Beth Israel Medical Center in New York.

Dr. Quinn has given seminars on depression and bipolar disorder at hospitals, graduate schools of social work, state societies for clinical social work, and to practicing clinicians across the United States through Professional Education Seminars, Inc (PESI) and Cross Country Education.