Psychoeducation in bipolar disorder: determining the effects of psychoeducation upon recurrence and quality of life in first episode mania patients

More than half a million Canadians suffer from bipolar disorder, a chronic psychiatric condition that causes repeated episodes of depression and/or elation. The condition significantly disrupts social and work lives, with high costs to the health care system. Although medical management of bipolar disorder has improved, many people have repeat episodes requiring frequent hospitalizations, and 15 percent of patients commit suicide. Research on the disorder is beginning to focus on treatments involving psychoeducation as well medication. This approach is designed to provide education about bipolar disorder and its treatment, promote early detection of symptoms, encourage regular sleep-wake cycles and social routines, enhance self-monitoring, and improve stress management skills. Dr. Erin Michalak is studying whether psychoeducation can improve quality of life for patients who have experienced their first episode of elated mood (mania). The research could determine whether psychoeducation helps to prevent relapse, reduce symptoms, improve adherence to medication, and improve ability to function socially and at work. The findings could be used to develop early intervention programs for people newly diagnosed with bipolar disorder.