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Psychosocial interventions for bipolar disorder

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 June 2014

David J. Castle*
St Vincent's Hospital, Victoria 3065, Australia The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
Lesley Berk
St Vincent's Hospital, Victoria 3065, Australia
Sue Lauder
St Vincent's Hospital, Victoria 3065, Australia
Michael Berk
St Vincent's Hospital, Victoria 3065, Australia
Greg Murray
Swinburne University, Melbourne, Australia
Professor David J. Castle, Chair of Psychiatry, St Vincent's Hospital, Level 2-46 Nicholson Street, Fitzroy, Victoria 3065, Australia. Tel: +61 3 92884751; Fax: +61 3 92884802; E-mail:



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.

Review article
Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons A/S

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