Living well with bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes mood swings, including episodes of mania and depression.
People living with bipolar disorder can face a number of challenges, including managing their symptoms, maintaining healthy relationships, and managing their jobs.
An important part of mental health care that often gets overlooked in our conversations is wellness and well-being.
“Health is more than the absence of disease…”
Sarah Sperry, Ph.D., explains that in clinical and research practice, many people focus on what is not going well for the patient or research participant.
Healthcare systems are designed to ask individuals questions about the severity of their symptoms or impairments.
When we see improvement in symptoms or impairments, these improvements are equated with treatment success.
“Sometimes we look at the absence of symptoms or impairment as well-being,” Sperry said.
Greater efforts are being made in training programs and research practices to better measure well-being, but much remains to be done.
A new way of measuring well-being
When it comes to wellness, Michigan Medicine’s Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Program has developed an initiative called the Prechter Program Learning Health System to drive development.
The Learning Health System includes organizations or networks that continuously adapt, using data to generate knowledge, engaging stakeholders and people with lived experience, and implementing behavioral changes to transform practice.
A critical component of the program is the development of a strong learning community that engages and engages individuals with lived experience.
With the significant help of Alexandra Vinson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Learning Health Sciences at UM, the Prechter program established its first learning community in 2022.
The program works side-by-side with individuals who have already had experience, as well as their families, clinicians, researchers, staff and trainees.
A key goal of the program is to develop a measure of well-being that can be used in research and clinical settings.
Priorities for the learning community include individualization, looking at week-to-week variations in well-being (including both quantitative and qualitative components of measurement), and ensuring they can be performed in clinical and research settings and that they are simple enough to perform on their own or to be performed with another caregiver.
The prescription of acceptance
Family members, caregivers, and people with bipolar disorder sometimes have trouble accepting a diagnosis.
Because of the stigma attached to bipolar disorder, people may initially reject it or have negative attitudes towards it.
Wendy, a research participant in the Prechter Program, says she went through the same process.
“It’s a grieving process to overcome the other side [a bipolar diagnosis] and say this is something i have.
What are my limitations? What am I capable of? What can I do to get through this? You can live a normal life as far as anyone can.”
Acceptance is an important part of mental health care for an individual and their family members.
Sarah, a Prechter program participant and family member of a person with bipolar disorder, says that while supporting a loved one with the condition can be challenging, it’s still important.
“[Own] the diagnosis. You have to own it, it doesn’t have to own you, but you have to own it.
Accept that this is a journey. This is an illness, it’s not a health problem that can be fixed mechanically, it’s not a broken bone. You are trying to make a recipe.
You have to tweak it, and sometimes what worked before doesn’t work anymore 1684397462 And sometimes what didn’t work before is worth trying again.”
Although wellness means something different to everyone, experts say it’s important to expand current clinical and research practices beyond reducing symptoms and functional impairment.
Measurement of treatment success for people with bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses needs to be expanded to measure feelings of purposefulness, independence, and self-acceptance.
The experts also suggest that now is the time to transform mental health care and research and conduct it alongside testimonial specialists.
Written by Rachel Bresnahan.
If you care about mental health, please read studies about it Vegetarianism is associated with a higher risk of depressionAnd Vitamin D could help relieve symptoms of depression.
For more information on mental health, see recent studies on Antioxidants, which could help reduce the risk of dementia, And Eating more nuts may help lower your risk of depression.