Bipolar disorder (BD) encompasses neuro-cognitive disturbances leading to psychological and social consequences affecting the quality of life of those suffering from it. However, the number of studies on the lived experience of people with BD about the treatment provided is relatively scant. The aim of this study is to investigate the lived experience of people with BD, focused on their perceptions and meanings about the treatment provided for their disorder. A qualitative, phenomenological design was applied. Following informed consent, thirteen people agreed to participate in the study, according to purposeful sampling and thematic saturation. Data collection was achieved through individual, semistructural interviews with open-ended questions, of a 30 minutes to an hour. The rigor of the analysis was validated according to Munhall’s and van Manen’s criteria. With regard to the main themes emerged, those revolved mainly around the social stigmatization following psychotropic medication. Further, the participants described anguish, fear and insecurity about the winding road nature of the disease, a condition that seemed to be worsened mainly due to discontinuation of medication, or alterations of the therapeutic schema. Interestingly, some of the participants described medication as a nutrient ingredient that kept them alive, thus revealing the importance they attached to psychotropic medication. Participants highlighted the importance of psychotropic medication, along with psychotherapy and personal effort, as well as education on topics related to psychopathology and treatment interventions for BD. Control over the clinical outcome of the disorder and self-management of the symptoms seem to be the ultimate need of people suffering from BD, with a core association to the effective medication and psycho-education. Based on that, interventions aiming to patients’ education in self-management skills are suggested. Furthermore, interventions towards the sensitization of the community on the biological aspects of mental disorders are proposed, tackling issues as stigma and medication concerns.

Key words: Mood disorders, lived experience, phenomenology, psychopharmacology, involuntary hospitalization, stigma, self-management.

A. Ηatzioannou, M. Karanikola, E. Papathanasoglou, Aik. Kaikoushi, M. Nystazaki, G. Alevizopoulos (page 291)

Full Article in pdf (Greek)