Social support and relationship satisfaction in bipolar disorder

J Fam Psychol. 2018 Jun;32(4):538-543. doi: 10.1037/fam0000400.


Social support is positively associated with individual well-being, particularly if an intimate partner provides that support. However, despite evidence that individuals with bipolar disorder (BPD) are at high risk for relationship discord and are especially vulnerable to low or inadequate social support, little research has explored the relationship between social support and relationship quality among couples in which a partner has BPD. The current study addresses this gap in the literature by examining the association between social support and relationship satisfaction in a weekly diary study. Thirty-eight opposite-sex couples who were married or living together for at least one year and in which one partner met diagnostic criteria for BPD completed up to 26 weekly diaries measuring social support and relationship satisfaction, as well as psychiatric symptoms. Results revealed that greater social support on average was associated with higher average relationship satisfaction for individuals with BPD and their partners, and that more support than usual in any given week was associated with higher relationship satisfaction that week. The converse was also true, with greater-than-average relationship satisfaction and more satisfaction than usual associated with greater social support. The results emphasize the week-to-week variability of social support and relationship satisfaction and the probable reciprocal relationship between support and satisfaction among couples in which a partner has BPD. Thus, social support may be important for maintaining relationship satisfaction and vice versa, even after controlling for concurrent mood symptoms. (PsycINFO Database Record

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bipolar Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Marriage / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Social Support*