Study finds a link between mood and the experience of creativity in those with bipolar disorder

The different mood swings associated with bipolar disorder are associated with different levels of self-reported creativity, according to a new study published in Psychiatry Research.

An estimated 5.7 million Americans have bipolar disorder, a serious mental illness characterized by recurrent periods of mania and depression. Manic episodes typically include hyperactivity, euphoria and insomnia.

“Although some studies have looked at objective measures of creativity in bipolar disorder, we also thought it would be useful to understand how people diagnosed with bipolar disorder understand their own creativity and how this may be related to their mood,” said study author Tania Perich, a lecturer at Western Sydney University.

The researchers surveyed 397 individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder regarding their recent symptoms and their perceptions about their own level of creativity.

Those reporting symptoms of depression tended to report feeling significantly less creative. But participants who reported mania symptoms did not view themselves as more creative than those who did not report any symptoms.

“There is a relationship between mood and the experience of creativity for people living with bipolar disorder. When depressed, people experience lower perceived creativity,” Perich said.

Some of the findings run contrary to previous research, which had found a relationship between mania and creativity. But the disparity could be the result of measuring creativity in different ways.

The creativity measure in the new study asked participants to rate their creativity in a variety of specific domains, such as acting, crafts, dancing, money management, solving personal problems, and writing. The previous study, on the other hand, used a more general measure of creative achievement.

“Further research is needed to better understand how creativity may help in living with bipolar disorder and how it may assist in improving well-being,” Perich said.

The study, “Depression, mania and self-reported creativity in bipolar disorder“, was authored by Natalie Miller, Tania Perich, and Tanya Meade.