Financial difficulties in bipolar disorder part 1: longitudinal relationships with mental health

Background: There has been little research on whether finances affect mental health in bipolar disorder.

Aims: This study aimed to examine the relationship between finances and mental health in bipolar disorder across two time points.

Methods: Fifty-four participants with bipolar disorder in a National Health Service community mental health service completed questionnaires examining financial difficulties, compulsive buying and perceived financial well-being. Questionnaires also measured alcohol dependence, stress, depression, anxiety, past and current manic symptoms.

Results: Partial correlations showed correlations over time: depression, anxiety and stress predicted later compulsive buying. Compulsive buying also predicted later anxiety. Lower perceived financial wellness increased anxiety and stress over time. Being on benefits was associated with higher depression and going without items such as clothes was linked to higher depression, stress, anxiety and past hypomanic symptoms.

Conclusions: Financial difficulties are related to mental health in bipolar disorder. Poor mental health leads to compulsive buying, whereas worry about finances increases anxiety and stress, with a vicious cycle for anxiety.

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