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A qualitative study of bipolar disorder: Exploring caregiver-patient relationships

Johnson, Rebecca (2010) A qualitative study of bipolar disorder: Exploring caregiver-patient relationships. Manchester Metropolitan University. (Unpublished)


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Bipolar Disorder is a mood disorder characterized by episodes of mania and depression, conflicting states within a mood spectrum (Stahl, 2000). Bipolar disorder is a chronic relapsing and remitting illness, which can undermine a patient in their own emotional stability, and causes disruptions to their loved one’s lives (Keitner et al, 2002). Previous research indicates that bipolar disorder has a detrimental effect on relationships, characterized by its unpredictable nature and the burden experienced by caregivers. This qualitative study was designed to explore caregiver-patient relationships. Caregivers of bipolar patients (N=3) and bipolar patients (N=3) were interviewed, with questions derived from previous research. Through analysis of the data, it emerged that although caregivers and patients faced challenges, relationships were mainly strengthened via an emotional journey, and positive effects were also reported on external relationships. Although there are limitations to this study, it provides an optimistic contrast to previous research, whilst also highlighting the need for further research in to this relatively under investigated area in Psychology.

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