Stressful life events, bipolar disorder, and the "kindling model"

Stefanie A. Hlastala, Ellen Frank, Jeanne Kowalski, Joel T. Sherrill, Xin M. Tu, Barbara Anderson, David J. Kupfer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


A common misconception is that bipolar disorder is an endogenous process. However, previous research suggests a role for life events in the onset of and recovery from bipolar episodes. Yet, there remains some question as to whether the relationship between life events and onset changes over the course of the disorder as a result of the number of episodes an individual has experienced. Using a rigorous interview measure of stressful life events, the current study tested the kindling model (R. M. Post, 1992), which theorizes that major life events play a diminishing role over the course of illness in bipolar patients. Analyses revealed that the number of episodes experienced does not appear to have a significant effect on bipolar 1 patients' reactivity to external stressors. In addition, the results suggest that a more complex relationship exists among age, stress, and onset of new episodes than can be adequately explained by the kindling model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)777-786
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Abnormal Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


Dive into the research topics of 'Stressful life events, bipolar disorder, and the "kindling model"'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this