University of Exeter: £850,000 NIHR funding for new Exeter bipolar research

More than £850,000 from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) will fund University of Exeter research into treatment for people living with bipolar, aimed at developing new talking therapies.

Bipolar Spectrum Disorders typically involve periods of depression, and periods of very high energy and mood (hypomania or mania). Bipolar Disorders are common, affecting up to 1 in 20 people at some point in their lifetime. They can be very distressing and disruptive to the people who experience them, and for friends and relatives. Many people with these conditions have mood issues outside episodes of depression or mania, such as ongoing low mood or mood swings.

The project will start in September and will be guided by a panel of people who have personal experience of bipolar disorder or have a friend or family member with the condition.

Talking therapies are used to treat mental and emotional problems like depression and involve working with a therapist. The majority of talking therapies currently available are aimed at preventing people from becoming severely unwell, having a relapse in depression or mania, or helping people recover from a period of depression. Professor Wright’s research aims to develop new therapies to fill a current gap – they will be designed for people with ongoing low mood and mood swings, in between full bipolar episodes.

Kim Wright, Associate Professor in Clinical Psychology with the University of Exeter said: “I’m delighted to be given this valuable opportunity to develop as a clinical researcher and to carry out this programme of work. People with ongoing bipolar symptoms, and their families, deserve the best care we can provide; my intention is that this research will help to determine what this might look like.”