Family Relationships Can Affect Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar patients who felt criticized by family members were more likely to be hospitalized

(RxWiki News) Staying on a medication can be helpful for people with bipolar disorder. But certain aspects of family relationships may also play a role.

New research suggests people with bipolar disorder who felt criticized by family members were more likely to end up in the hospital.

Finding ways to improve family relationships may help bipolar patients stay out of the hospital.

"Talk to a therapist about your feelings."

Past research has shown people with schizophrenia are less likely to stay on their medications when they feel like their family members are critical of their disorder.

To see if the same might be true for people with bipolar disorder, researchers, led by Jan Scott, MD, at Newcastle University in the UK, enrolled 81 people with bipolar disorder into their study.

They looked at how much they stuck to their doctor’s plan for taking meds. They also asked the patients if they felt that family members were critical of them.

Then they tracked the patients to see who was admitted to the hospital for a bipolar episode over the next year.

They found that people who felt criticized by their family were more likely to be admitted to the hospital. The researchers also found people who did not stay on their meds were more likely to be in the hospital. 

The authors concluded that feeling criticized is a risk factor for hospitalization in bipolar patients - and asking people about their family relationships may be a way to detect who is at risk.

Criticism by family members has been linked to lack of knowledge from caregivers about the disorder.

A psychiatrist can help families to improve communication, which may help to reduce feelings of criticism for people with bipolar disorder. 

This study was published in the December issue of Journal of Affective Disorders

Funding information and conflicts of interest were not provided on the journal’s website.

Review Date: 
November 1, 2012