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Stability of self-esteem in bipolar disorder : comparison of remitted bipolar patients, remitted unipolar patients and healthy controls.

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Rebecca Knowles
  • Sara Tai
  • Steven H. Jones
  • Julie Highfield
  • Richard Moriss
  • Richard P. Bentall
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>08/2007
<mark>Journal</mark>Bipolar Disorders
Issue number5
Number of pages6
Pages (from-to)490-495
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Objectives: Changes in beliefs about the self are a central feature of bipolar disorder, with grandiose self-belief common in mania and low self-esteem evident in periods of depression. We investigated whether unstable self-esteem is a characteristic of bipolar disorder in remission. Methods: We compared 18 patients with DSM-IV bipolar disorder in remission, 16 patients with unipolar disorder in remission, and 19 healthy controls. The primary measure was a diary kept for one week and completed twice each day, measuring self-esteem and positive and negative affect. We also administered Winters and Neale's (J Abnorm Psychol 1985; 94: 282–290) implicit measure of attributional style. Results: Whereas mean levels of self-esteem and affect were not abnormal in the remitted bipolar patients, the bipolar patients showed strong fluctuations in these processes. In common with the unipolar patients, they also showed a pessimistic attributional style on the Pragmatic Inference Task (PIT). Conclusions: Instability of self-esteem and affect is present in bipolar patients, even when their symptoms are in remission, and has previously been found in people at genetic risk of the disorder. It may be a marker of vulnerability to the disorder.