Nav: Home

NIH funds $2 million study of caregivers of relatives with bipolar disorder

December 12, 2016

Family members of the more than 10 million adults with bipolar disorder in the United States often see their own heath suffer from the demands of taking care of them.

With a four-year, $2 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant, nurse scientists at Case Western Reserve University will conduct one of the first studies to test ways family members can maintain and improve their health while caring for relatives with bipolar disorder.

"Often, family caregivers experience the unpredictable ups and downs of their relatives living with bipolar disorder," said Jaclene A. Zauszniewski, principal investigator on the NIH grant. "At the same time, caregivers may also be raising their own families, holding down jobs and leading their own lives."

Bipolar disorder is a chronic mental illness leading to extreme mood swings and disruptive symptoms that challenge a person's ability to function normally, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Previous studies have shown that caregivers of people with bipolar disorder have higher levels of distress than those with diabetes, hypertension, asthma or dementia. They also suffer from significantly more mental and physical health problems than the general population, which leads to greater use of mental health and primary care services.

"Stress on caregivers can become so intense that it affects their health, which may make them unable to care for the diagnosed family member and may worsen the condition of the relative with bipolar disorder," said Zauszniewski, the Kate Hanna Harvey Professor in Community Health Nursing at Case Western Reserve's Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing.

Based on clinical and written tests, researchers will match caregivers with ways to self-manage their health that best fits their mental and physical needs. For example, caregivers with low variability in their heart rates--a sign of stress--will be taught breathing techniques designed to have calming effects.

Researchers may also prescribe training in specific self-help and help-seeking skills to aid caregivers in coping with the ups and downs of their family member's bipolar disorder.

Such techniques break from the traditional one-size-fits-all approach of providing education about bipolar disorder to family members before assessing their needs or preferences.

"Existing strategies for these caregivers have had little effect on improving their health," said Zauszniewski. "If we can get to a place where these family members can manage their distress and remain healthy, then they'll be able to provide better care for their relatives."

Researchers believe the study's results could also be applied to caregivers of people with other chronic mental or physical conditions, Zauszniewski said.

The NIH's National Institute of Nursing Research awarded the grant.
-end-


Case Western Reserve University

Related Mental Health Articles:

The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health: Mental health harms related to very frequent social media use in girls might be due to exposure to cyberbullying, loss of sleep or reduced physical activity
Very frequent use of social media may compromise teenage girls' mental health by increasing exposure to bullying and reducing sleep and physical exercise, according to an observational study of almost 10,000 adolescents aged 13-16 years studied over three years in England between 2013-2015, published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal.
Can Facebook improve your mental health?
Contrary to popular belief, using social media and the internet regularly could improve mental health among adults and help fend off serious psychological distress, such as depression and anxiety, finds a new Michigan State University study.
A gut feeling for mental health
The first population-level study on the link between gut bacteria and mental health identifies specific gut bacteria linked to depression and provides evidence that a wide range of gut bacteria can produce neuroactive compounds.
Mental health care increasing most among those with less distress
A new study shows that more Americans are getting outpatient mental health care and the rate of serious psychological distress is decreasing.
On-again, off-again relationships might be toxic for mental health
A researcher from the University of Missouri says that the pattern of breaking up and getting back together can impact an individual's mental health and not for the better.
Could mental health apps lead to overdiagnosis?
Mental health app marketing commonly presents mental health problems as ubiquitous and individuals as responsible for mental wellbeing; overdiagnosis and denial of the social factors related to mental health could result.
Student-run mental health education efforts may improve college mental health climate
Studies estimate that 20 percent to 36 percent of college students cope with some form of serious psychological distress, yet only about a third receive any services despite the fact they often have access to on-campus help.
How mental health diagnosis should be more collaborative
New research published in The Lancet Psychiatry finds that mental health diagnosis should be more collaborative.
Self-rating mental health as 'good' predicts positive future mental health
Researchers have found that when a person rates their current mental health as 'positive' despite meeting criteria for a mental health problem, it can predict good mental health in the future, even without treatment.
Medicating for mental health
University of Guelph researchers found evidence that a single bout of exhaustive exercise protects against acute olanzapine-induced hyperglycemia.
More Mental Health News and Mental Health Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Accessing Better Health
Essential health care is a right, not a privilege ... or is it? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can give everyone access to a healthier way of life, despite who you are or where you live. Guests include physician Raj Panjabi, former NYC health commissioner Mary Bassett, researcher Michael Hendryx, and neuroscientist Rachel Wurzman.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#544 Prosperity Without Growth
The societies we live in are organised around growth, objects, and driving forward a constantly expanding economy as benchmarks of success and prosperity. But this growing consumption at all costs is at odds with our understanding of what our planet can support. How do we lower the environmental impact of economic activity? How do we redefine success and prosperity separate from GDP, which politicians and governments have focused on for decades? We speak with ecological economist Tim Jackson, Professor of Sustainable Development at the University of Surrey, Director of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Propserity, and author of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

An Announcement from Radiolab