Objectives: Neurocognitive ability and mood have often been discussed as contributing mechanisms to the severe psychosocial dysfunction experienced in bipolar disorder (BD). In contrast, there has been little discussion on the contribution of social cognition or emotion regulation. This paper aims to assert a potential role for these constructs in psychosocial functioning in BD, with an overarching goal to highlight the necessary importance of considering them in future research examining psychosocial outcomes in the disorder. Methods: This paper provides a theoretical synthesis of available and indirect evidence for an influence of (1) social cognition and (2) emotion regulation on psychosocial functioning; it acknowledges important clinical questions that need addressing, and discusses how current research might be translated to improve the treatment of psychosocial dysfunction in BD. Results: Given their assumed roles in facilitating social interactions and modulating behaviours, it is certainly plausible that abnormalities in social cognition and emotion regulation are detrimental to psychosocial functioning. Currently, there is only minimal direct evidence examining their influence, although existing BD studies are preliminarily supportive of relationships between these constructs. Conclusions: There are reasonable theoretical grounds, supported by indirect and preliminary evidence, to suggest that social cognition and emotion regulation may be important in the prediction of psychosocial outcome in BD. However, this proposition is limited by the paucity of empirical research directly examining this matter.
Van Rheenen, T., & Rossell, S. L. (2014). Phenomenological predictors of psychosocial function in bipolar disorder: is there evidence that social cognitive and emotion regulation abnormalities contribute? Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 48(1), 26 - 35. https://doi.org/10.1177/0004867413508452