Towards a more liveable life for close relatives of individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

International journal of mental health nursing

PubMedID: 22712875

Rusner M, Carlsson G, Brunt D, Nyström M. Towards a more liveable life for close relatives of individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Int J Ment Health Nurs. 2013;22(2):162-9.
The life of close relatives of persons with bipolar disorder (BD) is associated with emotional distress, depression, and a high level of use of mental health care. Illness-related changes of their life situation endanger relationships, social life, finances, and occupational functioning. Understanding of facilitating conditions for close relatives is still a neglected research area. The aim of the present study thus was to explore what makes the life of close relatives of persons with BD more liveable. A lifeworld phenomenological approach was used. The findings reveal that keeping distance, having stability in everyday life, and strengthening equality through transparent communication are conditions that enable close relatives to influence the unpredictable and its consequences and thus make life more liveable. This implies contributions from close relatives, the person with BD, and the caring services. We propose that health-care support should not be divided in support for the patient and/or the close relatives but instead be designed as support for the 'patient and close relatives' as a unit. Professional caregivers need to take responsibility for creating intersubjective settings for the person with BD and their close relatives to share their needs and make joint plans for how to influence the illness-related life issues.