Frequency of use and perceived helpfulness of wellness strategies for bipolar and unipolar depression

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

The majority of research in mood disorders has focused on pharmacologic, psychotherapeutic, and brain stimulation interventions. Conversely, the utility of less structured interventions, such as lifestyle modifications or wellness strategies, has remained understudied. The objective of the current study is to evaluate the frequency of use and perceived helpfulness of wellness strategies for bipolar and unipolar depression.

METHODS

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) conducted an online survey asking participants about the use and helpfulness of wellness strategies.

RESULTS

In total, 896 participants completed the survey (unipolar depression [n = 447] and bipolar depression [n = 449]). Wellness strategies were used by 62% and 59% of individuals with bipolar and unipolar depression, respectively. Listening to music, socializing, and adequate sleep were commonly reported wellness strategies. The majority of participants reported wellness strategies to be helpful. Use of wellness strategies was associated with greater overall perceived treatment effectiveness (P < .0001) and greater subjective helpfulness of medications (P = .039), psychotherapy (P < .0001), and peer support groups (P < .0001).

CONCLUSIONS

Wellness strategies were commonly used by the majority of respondents. These strategies were subjectively helpful for most respondents and were associated with greater overall treatment effectiveness and increased helpfulness of medications, psychotherapy, and peer support groups. As such, wellness strategies should be considered while developing a holistic treatment plan for depression. Further research is needed to evaluate the antidepressant effects of specific wellness strategies to better understand the role of these interventions in the management of depression.

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