Developed by researchers at Orygen Youth Health and the University of Melbourne, the information was gathered with the help of an international consortium of 143 carers, consumers and clinicians with experience in dealing with bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder affects about two in 100 adults and onset is often in adolescence with peak onset in early to mid twenties. Good treatment and illness self-managements strategies help many people to keep well. However, despite pharmacological treatment, one study found that relapse rates are as high as 37% in the first year, 60% over two years and 73% over five years.
Website developer Lesley Berk of the University of Melbourne and Orygen Youth Health said that while patterns of illness vary, extreme bipolar mood swings and mild symptoms between episodes can affect the person’s daily life and that of their loved ones.
“Family members, partners and friends are often a primary source of support for people with bipolar disorder,” she said.
“For some caregivers the impact of care-giving can result in high levels of stress, depression and other health problems.” In a previous study, 93% of carers reported feeling distressed and experienced distruption to their lives when their loved one was ill or had a bipolar episode, and for 54% of the carers, this distress was severe.
Ms Berk said there is very little caregiver specific information for this group. “The website www.bipolarcaregivers.org includes information on bipolar disorder, ways to treat and manage it, suggestions for ways caregivers can provide support and take care of themselves as well as helpful resources,” she said.
People are invited to complete a feedback survey on the usefulness of the website at www.bipolarcaregivers.org.
Rebecca Scott, University
Mob: 04171 64 791
Lisa Mulhall, Orygen Youth
Mob: 0412 555 063