Technology and Bipolar

colin-deppColin Depp recently gave a presentation on technology and bipolar as part of the excellent International Society for Bipolar Disorders monthly (free) video lecture series.

You can find out information about these video lectures on the ISBD website. I encourage you to sign up to get updates.

Back to Dr. Depp’s lecture.

He discussed a number of topics of interest to people with bipolar including online therapy and mood charting, but he particularly focused on his research designed to help people develop strategies for managing their own moods.

I’ve long been interested in this idea and have worked with a couple of patients to record video messages which they can play back to themselves when they find that they are in an energized or depressed state.

Dr. Depp’s Prizm project was an effort to help people with bipolar to create self-advice that could then be available to them outside of therapy sessions.

Each person enrolled in the trial met with a therapist who conducted a guided interview asking them about their future goals, and about how their moods change, and what symptoms are early warning signs of mood changes. They then created messages that were embedded in an app.

The Wellness Recovery Action Plan Wellness Recovery Action Plan is a related idea. It is a way of creating an action plan for coping with mood changes, a plan which not only includes recommendations for how you can cope, but also ideas for what your loved ones can do to support you and a place to outline your preferences for treatment when in a crisis.

The WRAP process is much more detailed and that’s part of what can make it difficult for people to complete (although there is an excellent mobile app that makes the process a bit easier).

The idea contained in all of these approaches is that when people are in a stable and workable mood, they are often in the best position to come up with plans for self care.

In addition, plans that we develop for ourselves have much more credibility and match our personal values better than plans that professionals or family members may come up for us when we are in a crisis.

Unfortunately, the Prizm project was effective only while people had access to the app.

Dr. Depp’s original idea had been that through this process people would develop skills for dealing with moods that would affect how they coped with their bipolar even after the research project was completed. That turned out not to be true, but the idea of self messages and developing your own action plan for depression or mania is still a good one.

Here is the full video.


Depp CA, Ceglowski J, Wang VC, Yaghouti F, Mausbach BT, Thompson WK, Granholm EL. Augmenting psychoeducation with a mobile intervention for bipolar disorder: a randomized controlled trial. J Affect Disord. 2015 Mar 15;174:23-30. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2014.10.053. PubMed PMID: 25479050; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4339469.

For More Information

Wellness Recovery Action Plan