[Self-help from the cyberspace?--An analysis of self-help forums for patients with bipolar affective disorders].
ABSTRACT The study aimed to evaluate if and how online self-help forums are used by patients with bipolar affective disorders.
Within a six-months period 1200 postings of 135 users in two German language forums were analysed with respect to fields of interest and self-help mechanisms.
The topics most discussed were social network of the patients, symptoms of the illness, and medication. Disclosure, online-group cohesion as well as empathy and support were the main self-help mechanisms.
Our study reveals that the social network is very important for patients coping with bipolar affective disorders. We infer that the main interest in participating in online forums for bipolar affective disorders is to share emotions. Attention to those aspects should be given also in psychoeducative programs.