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Social support in bipolar disorder: its relevance to remission and relapse


Corresponding author: Dr Lars Johnson, Department of Psychiatry, St Göran's Hospital, Box 12 500, S-112 81 Stockholm, Sweden. Fax: +946 8 6721908; e-mail:


Objectives:  While an association between low-level social support and depression has been found in many studies, its relevance in bipolar illness has been rarely investigated. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of social support in the remission and relapse of bipolar disorder.

Methods:  We obtained ratings from 94 stabilized bipolar patients using two different questionnaires that measure perceived social support: the Interview Schedule for Social Interaction and the Interpersonal Support Evaluation List.

Results:  Significantly lower social support was found in patients in partial recovery compared with those in full recovery (p = 0.003). Patients who relapsed during a 1-year prospective follow-up period perceived a significantly lower level of social support than patients with no relapse (p = 0.012).

Conclusions:  Bipolar patients with full interepisode remission perceive more social support than those who do not achieve full remission. Poor social support may increase the risk of relapse in bipolar disorder.