Self-Management: An Important Part of Treatment for Bipolar Disorder

on November 2, 2018
Self-Management: An Important Part of Treatment for Bipolar Disorder

Despite the best available treatments, relapse rates for bipolar disorder remain high, contributing to significant morbidity and mortality. Self-management is increasingly recognised as a cornerstone of effective treatment, empowering individuals to take an active role in managing their condition and improving their quality of life (Morton et al., 2018).

Bipolar II disorder – we don’t know enough

There is a growing literature on self-management strategies in bipolar disorder, however the majority of psychosocial research and associated treatments focus on bipolar I disorder (Fletcher et al., 2018). Very few studies have focused on bipolar II disorder and assume that treatments that work for one type will work for the other. Compared to bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder has been left off the map in terms of research, yet the lived experience can be very different

  1. Depressive symptoms and episodes are more common, just as severe and lead to loss of work and high suicide rates
  2. Manic episodes are not experienced – those with bipolar II disorder experience hypomania, which can often be productive and enjoyable (but often ends in a depressive ‘crash’)

Because of these different features, we believe that treatments need to be better tailored for bipolar II disorder. Very little is known about the self-management strategies that individuals with bipolar II disorder use, and how these may complement evidence-based treatments for this chronic mental health condition and its distinguishing features (e.g. chronic depressive symptoms, elevated mood states that are not associated with impairment, high levels of anxiety). Clinicians and consumers have called for the development of targeted interventions for bipolar II disorder (Swartz et al., 2009; Fisher et al., 2017a, Fisher et al., 2017b). An understanding of bipolar-II-specific self-management strategies is a key first step in this development process.

Living with bipolar II disorder: what works?

The aim of this research study is to develop a comprehensive list of self-management strategies based on lived experience with bipolar II disorder. The study seeks to improve our understanding of what works for bipolar II disorder in managing different mood states (depression, hypomania), its associated symptoms (anxiety, suicidal ideation, day-to-day mood variation) and consequences (interpersonal difficulties), and what people do to improve their quality of life. Study findings will deepen and extend understanding of self-management in bipolar disorder from earlier research (e.g. Michalak et al., 2016), informing the later development of an online self-management program designed specifically for people with bipolar II disorder.

Interested in contributing to our understanding of bipolar II disorder?

You’re invited to participate in an online survey asking you about what work and what doesn’t work for you in terms of coping and preventing symptoms of bipolar II disorder. We are looking for people who:

  • Have received a diagnosis of bipolar II disorder from a mental health professional
  • Are between 18-65 years old
  • Have a good comprehension of English

Participation involves:
Completing an online survey, where you will be asked some basic information about yourself, the strategies that you use to manage bipolar II disorder and promote good quality of life, and your opinion about treatments for bipolar II disorder. The online survey will take no more than 45 minutes, and you will be reimbursed $10USD for your participation.

For more information or to sign up to participate, please visit the following:

Logo-Swinburne-University-400x201Sign Up Link



Fisher A, Manicavasagar V, Sharpe L, Laidsaar‐Powell R, Juraskova I (2017a). Identifying and addressing barriers to treatment decision-making in bipolar II disorder: Clinicians’ perspective. Aust Psychol;53: 40-51

Fisher A, Manicavasagar V, Sharpe L, Laidsaar-Powell R, Juraskova I (2017b) A qualitative exploration of patient and family views and experiences of treatment decision-making in bipolar II disorder. J Ment Health:1-14

Fletcher K, Tan EJ, Scott J, Murray G (2018). Bipolar II disorder: The need for clearer definition and improved management. Aust NZ J Psychiatry. Epub ahead of print

Swartz HA, Frank E, Frankel DR, Novick D, Houck P (2009). Psychotherapy as monotherapy for the treatment of bipolar II depression: a proof of concept study. Bipolar Disord;20(6):89-94

Michalak EE, Suto MJ, Barnes SJ, et al. (2016). Effective self-management strategies for bipolar disorder: A community-engaged Delphi Consensus Consultation study.  J Affect Disord;206:77-86

Morton E, Michalak EE, Hole R, Buzwell S, Murray G (2018). ‘Taking back the reins’ – A qualitative study of the meaning and experience of self-management in bipolar disorder. J Affect Disord;228:160-65


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *