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Psychosocial interventions have the potential to enhance relapse prevention in bipolar disorder.
To evaluate a manualised group-based intervention for people with bipolar disorder in a naturalistic setting.
Eighty-four participants were randomised to receive the group-based intervention (a 12-week programme plus three booster sessions) or treatment as usual, and followed up with monthly telephone interviews (for 9 months post-intervention) and face-to-face interviews (at baseline, 3 months and 12 months).
Participants who received the group-based intervention were significantly less likely to have a relapse of any type and spent less time unwell. There was a reduced rate of relapse in the treatment group for pooled relapses of any type (hazard ratio 0.43, 95% CI 0.20–0.95; t343 = −2.09, P = 0.04).
This study suggests that the group-based intervention reduces relapse risk in bipolar disorder.
To provide a selected overview of the literature on psychosocial treatments for bipolar disorder
Selective literature review
Randomised controlled trials of psychosocial interventions in bipolar disorder fall largely into five categories, namely: psychoeducation, integrated treatments, family based therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy and interpersonal social rhythm therapy. Most studies have shown some benefit in terms of relapse prevention, but have tended to be effective for either the depressed or the manic pole, and not both. Broader outcome parameters such as quality of life have not been reported consistently. The mechanisms whereby treatments might exert their effects have not been clearly delineated. Many studies have excluded patients with bipolar II and other variants, and those with psychiatric and substance use comorbidities, reducing their generalisability.
Whilst psychosocial treatments show promise in the area of bipolar disorder, more work is required to delineate the effective elements of such interventions, and to ensure generalisability to individuals with bipolar II and other forms of bipolar disorder, as well as those with psychiatric and substance use comorbidities. Other forms of delivery, such as via the internet, deserve further exploration.