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Social media and bipolar disorder: a risky combination - Medical Conferences

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Social media and bipolar disorder: a risky combination

Presented By
Ms Klara Rydahl, Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark

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Conference
ECNP 2020
People who suffer from bipolar disorder have an increased risk of displaying online behaviour which they subsequently regret or which other people perceive as inappropriate and/or transgressive. Unsurprisingly, this type of behaviour has negative consequences for the interpersonal relationships of these individuals.

Bipolar disorder is characterised by pathological shifts in mood/energy level. The pathognomonic trait of the disease is mania, during which patients may display risk-taking behaviour such as reckless driving, hypersexuality, spending sprees, and substance abuse [1]. Patients often regret their actions once the manic episode is treated and this may lead to negative thoughts during the consecutive neutral or depressive phase.

So far, it was unknown whether analogue risky behaviour is also displayed on social media. This has specific implications as social media can reach a larger audience and leave permanent traces. Therefore, Ms Klara Rydahl (Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark) and colleagues assessed whether individuals with bipolar disorder are at an increased risk of showing behaviour on social media and online dating sites that is later regretted or that other people find inappropriate or transgressive and whether these actions impact interpersonal relationships.

A questionnaire on socio-demographics, use of online social media, and use of online dating was given to people aged 18-75 years in 1) an outpatient clinic for affective disorders, 2) an urban general practice, and 3) a rural general practice. In total, 125 individuals with bipolar disorder and 196 controls without affective disorders participated. Online dating was used by 40% in the control group and 69% in the bipolar disorder group. Regarding social media, the crude odds ratio (OR) was 4.3 for regretted behaviour (adjusted OR 3.5) in those with bipolar disorder, and 4.1 for regretted behaviour during online dating (adjusted OR 4.0).

These results indicate that patients with bipolar disorder are at an increased risk of exhibiting regrettable behaviour on social media and online dating sites. The researchers concluded that it may be useful to advise patients who suffer from bipolar disorder to be cautious when using social media and pursuing online dating.

 

  1. Rydahl KFK, et al. Bipolar disorder is associated with elevated risk of regretted behaviour on social media and online dating sites. P.256. ECNP Congress 2020.




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