Not taking prescribed medications can lead to relapse, hospitalization and increased risk of suicide for people with bipolar disorder, yet many who have this condition do not take their medicines as prescribed.
A new study examines why this happens, finding six key factors that stop people who have bipolar disorder from taking their medications.
The reasons include unpleasant side effects, difficulty in remembering to take the medications, fear of addiction, and preference for an alternative treatment.
A patient's own beliefs and knowledge about the disorder also play a role, as does a lack of support from friends, family and health care professionals, according to British researchers.
"Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs, known as mania or hypomania, and depressive lows," said lead researcher Asta Ratna Prajapati, a postgraduate researcher at the University of East Anglia's School of Pharmacy.
"We wanted to better understand what stops people from taking their medication," Prajapati said in a university news release.
The research team reviewed 57 studies, mostly surveys and interviews, involving nearly 33,000 patients and health care professionals. About 79% of the studies were conducted in the United States and Europe.
"We recommend that the prescribers talk to patients about their thoughts and experiences of the medications they take, paying particular attention to these issues which may stop patients taking their meds," Prajapati said.
The researchers are developing a tool to identify people who struggle to take their medication and their individual reasons. They hope it will help prescribers and patients work together and offer individualized support.
The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more on bipolar disorder.
SOURCE: University of East Anglia, news release, May 19, 2021