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Managing bipolar moods without medication: a qualitative investigation

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>15/03/2015
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Affective Disorders
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)241-249
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date5/12/14
<mark>Original language</mark>English



Although many diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder (BD) choose to manage their moods without medication at some point, their experiences of doing so are not well understood. This paper aims to explore the processes by which people manage bipolar moods without medication.


Ten people diagnosed with BD who do not use medication were interviewed. Analysing their accounts using grounded theory methods led to developing a model of how they perceive the processes involved in managing moods without medication.


Participants engaged in repeated evaluative processes around their strategies for managing moods. Some participants decided not to influence elevated moods due to their perceived advantages. Participants׳ intentions and actions were influenced by their perceptions of themselves and by the meanings they attached to bipolar moods, which were in turn influenced by feedback from others.


The complexity of the processes described by participants suggests that traditional models of explaining non-adherence may over-simplify some individuals׳ experiences. Future research could focus on identifying factors predictive of successful attempts to manage moods without medication. Professionals should place more emphasis on non-medication approaches in order to increase engagement with people who do not use medication. This may involve focussing on individual׳s longer-term goals rather than on modifying moods in shorter-term. Conclusions are based on participants who had experienced significant bipolar moods, but who largely seemed satisfied living without medication.


Future research should ascertain whether such processes apply to a wider group of individuals who do not use medication for bipolar moods.