Differences in beliefs about mood between people with and without bipolar disorder

Clin Psychol Psychother. 2019 Nov;26(6):684-694. doi: 10.1002/cpp.2391. Epub 2019 Aug 14.


Psychological models of bipolar disorder (BD), such as the self-regulation model (SRM; Leventhal, Nerenz, & Steele, 1984), highlight the crucial role of beliefs about mood in relapse vulnerability. To date, no studies have directly compared these beliefs between people with and without BD. Based on the SRM, the current research examined beliefs about mood in people with and without BD and explored the impact of current affect on these beliefs. Fifty euthymic people with a diagnosis of BD and 50 controls were recruited through an online screening study, clinical services, and support organizations. Experience sampling methodology (ESM) was used to assess beliefs (according to the Brief Illness Perceptions Questionnaire; Broadbent, Petrie, Main, & Weinman, 2006) across a typical week of everyday life. Data were analysed using multilevel modelling. Forty-two people with a diagnosis of BD and 50 controls were included in the analyses. Results indicated that the BD group reported less control over mood, a shorter duration of mood, and less understanding of mood and were more likely to report the cause of depressive symptoms as something internal, compared with controls. When controlling for current affect, the BD group also reported more positive consequences, made more internal attributions for hypomanic symptoms, and reported less concern about mood, compared with controls. Findings suggest important differences in beliefs about mood between people with and without BD that are not the result of current affect. These beliefs may be particularly important in understanding underlying vulnerability to future relapse into depression and/or mania.

Keywords: affect; beliefs; bipolar; experience sampling; mood.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Bipolar Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom