Bipolar is characterized by moods that range from depressive to manic. Evidence suggests that the coping styles people use when depressed, and their response to depressive episodes, can greatly predict the course of bipolar. Depression has been shown to be directly related to high levels of negative affect and low levels of positive affect. Low self-esteem also contributes to depressive symptoms.
No study has examined how symptoms of bipolar are directly influenced by mood, self-esteem, and coping strategies during depressive episodes. To fill this void in literature, Hana Pavlickova of the School of Psychology at Bangor University in the United Kingdom conducted a study involving 48 individuals with bipolar.
The participants recorded their moods, levels of self-esteem, and how they responded to those moods in relation to the context in which they occurred, 10 times per day for six days. Pavlickova evaluated the results and found that depressive symptoms, mania, and hypomania were all associated with low mood and low levels of self-esteem.
Specifically, participants with especially low moods were more likely to engage in rumination, which led to decreases in mood. The participants who reported high moods were more likely to take risks, which elevated their moods further. Finally, Pavlickova discovered that the most adaptive forms of coping were distraction and productive problem-solving.
In sum, the results of this study show a direct link between negative affect, poor coping strategies, and depressive symptoms. Even though people with manic symptoms had high moods, some of the participants with mania and hypomania experienced low self-esteem, low moods, and high levels of emotional instability.
“Furthermore,” added Pavlickova, “rumination led to decrease in positive affect only in individuals with few symptoms of mania, whilst no effect was found in those with manic symptoms.” Overall, this suggests that rumination does not directly lead to depression, but instead, rumination perpetuates and exacerbates depressed mood states. The results revealed here are informative but should be extended so that the intricate and complex relationship between mood, depression, and mania can be better understood.
Pavlickova, H., Varese, F., Smith, A., Myin-Germeys, I., Turnbull, O.H., et al. (2013). The Dynamics of Mood and Coping in Bipolar Disorder: Longitudinal Investigations of the Inter-Relationship between Affect, Self-Esteem and Response Styles. PLoS ONE 8(4): e62514. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0062514
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