People with bipolar mood swings needed for research trial

People in Cumbria who have bipolar or cyclothymic disorder are being recruited for a new scientific study.

Researchers from the universities of Lancaster, Exeter and Northumbria are investigating a new treatment for bipolar mood swings. The study is being led by Dr Kim Wright, who is based at the University of Exeter. 

The study is for adults with bipolar or cyclothymic disorder who find that their mood is quite variable even in between episodes of depression or mania/hypomania.

To take part you must:

  • Be 18 or over
  • Have a diagnosis or possible diagnosis of bipolar disorder or cyclothymic disorder
  • Be troubled by frequent mood swings
  • Be registered with a GP in our study area: you can check whether your GP practice falls into the study area by contacting the team below.

The researchers will not be able to include people who are currently receiving another psychological therapy for bipolar disorder, who are receiving on-going co-ordinated care in secondary mental health services or have current drug or alcohol dependence.

Previous research has shown that a talking treatment called dialectical behaviour therapy has been useful for mood swings in patients with other disorders – so it has now been adapted by Exeter researchers specifically for those with mood instability in bipolar disorder. 

The therapy on offer (the ThrIVe-B programme) teaches people skills for responding to rapid mood shifts and the sort of everyday life events that can trigger mood changes. 

“We hope that the findings of this study will help us plan for a much larger study to fully test how effective this therapy approach is,” said Kim Wright of the University of Exeter.

“What many people find is that having powerful shifts in mood can sometimes make it difficult to live life to the full, and can be a source of difficulties in relationships with others.

The ThrIVe-B programme will involve participants attending 15 weekly group meetings in Carlisle, and eight fortnightly individual sessions, which can be delivered in person or by telephone, as well as continuing standard NHS care. The programme also includes a mood app which is designed to help users notice changes in mood and respond to them in helpful ways.

It is important to note that participants will have a 50% chance of being randomly assigned to the THrIVe-B therapy programme and a 50% chance of receiving their usual NHS care. This will be decided by a computer programme and participants will be informed of the result approximately two weeks before the therapy course is due to start.

Everyone involved, regardless of whether or not they are receiving the therapy, will be asked to complete questionnaires and research interviews at five points over 15 months.

Participants will also be asked to download a smartphone application that will give alerts throughout the day and ask them to rate their mood.

The study is taking place in two areas: Devon and Cumbria, supported by Devon Partnership NHS Trust and the University of Exeter, and Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Lancaster University.

For more information, email Debbie Duncan at thrive.lancaster@lancaster.ac.uk or telephone 01524 592291.