Highlights from

ECNP 2020

ECNP Congress Virtual

Virtual 12 - 15 September 2020

Social media and bipolar disorder: a risky combination

People who suffer from bipolar disorder have an increased risk of displaying online behaviour which is subsequently regretted or which other people perceive as inappropriate and/or transgressive. Not surprisingly, this type of behaviour has negative consequences for interpersonal relationships of these individuals.

Bipolar disorder is characterised by pathological shifts in mood/energy level; the pathognomonic trait of the disease is mania, during which patients may display risk-taking behaviour such as reckless driving, hypersexuality, spending sprees, and substance abuse [1]. Patients often regret their actions once the manic episode is treated.

So far, it was unknown whether analogue risky behaviour is also displayed on social media. This has specific implications as social media can reach a larger audience and leave permanent traces. Therefore, medical student Klara Rydahl (Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark) and colleagues assessed whether individuals with bipolar disorder are at an increased risk of showing behaviour on social media and online dating sites that is later regretted or that other people find inappropriate or transgressive and whether these actions impact interpersonal relationships.

A questionnaire on sociodemographics, use of online social media, and online dating was given to people aged 18-75 years in 1) an outpatient clinic for affective disorders, 2) an urban general practice, and 3) a rural general practice. In total, 125 individuals with bipolar disorder and 196 controls without affective disorders participated. Of these, 40% in the control group and 69% in the bipolar disorder group used online dating. Regarding social media, crude odds ratio (OR) was 4.3 for regretted behaviour (adjusted OR 3.5) in those with bipolar disorder; this was 4.1 for online dating (adjusted OR 4.0). The researchers concluded that it may be useful to advice patients who suffer from bipolar disorder to be cautious when using social media and pursuing online dating.

  1. Rydahl KFK, et al. Bipolar disorder is associated with elevated risk of regretted behaviour on social media and online dating sites. P.256. ECNP 2020.

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