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Part 4: Recovery Section 13: Recovery and staying well with bipolar Key points n Recovery is defined in a variety of ways. Some people think of recovery as no longer using services or taking medication, whereas others see recovery as gaining back control of one’s life and achieving valued goals whilst perhaps continuing to draw on support. n People use a variety of strategies for recovery. The most common involve learning to notice early warning signs of mood changes and knowing what is likely to help at that point. n Recovery is an ongoing journey that is unique to each individual. 13.1 Definition of recovery ‘Many people hope for instant recovery. It takes time to learn how to control it. We learn to monitor ourselves and accept what our bodies can do.’ Service user, quoted in Rusell & Browne, 2005

We know that a sizeable proportion of people with bipolar disorder have a good outcome in the long term (Coryell et al., 1998). Recovery from bipolar disorder is not like recovery from a broken leg where a doctor can confirm that the bone is fully healed. Recovery associated with a mental health problem can only be determined by the person with the problem, and it does not necessarily involve a complete elimination of distress. In fact, part of recovery may involve working out what features of the ‘illness’ can now be regarded as acceptable and manageable and how to engage with services in ways that feel constructive for the individual. Service users have offered a range of ways of viewing recovery(Russell & Browne, 2005). Some examples are listed below: each definition has strengths and limitations: 1)

Prevention of relapse. Long-term recovery can be defined as not having further relapses of mania or depression. This is a relatively clear-cut definition. Yet people can experience chronic depressed mood and still not return to a ‘normal’ life despite not having had a relapse. On the flip side, people can recover by learning to manage their relapses better – for example spending less time in hospital. ‘Ultimately recovery is about staying well and avoiding major episodes.’

Teresa

‘Recovery is being independent and managing to control extremes and avoid becoming very unwell/admitted.’ Tim

2)

Medication: While many people would see taking medication as an integral part of recovery, many others see managing without medication as a key sign of recovery (Mansell et al., 2009).

Part 4: Recovery

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Understanding Bipolar Disorder  

This report was written by a working party of clinical psychologists who were chosen because of their particular expertise on the subject of...

Understanding Bipolar Disorder  

This report was written by a working party of clinical psychologists who were chosen because of their particular expertise on the subject of...