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Improving Treatment Adherence in Bipolar Disorder Through Psychoeducation

Eduard Vieta, MD, PhD

Published: January 15, 2005

Article Abstract

The chronicity and cyclical nature of bipolar disorder combined with the irrationality typical duringbipolar mood episodes often encourage pharmacologic treatment nonadherence, which heightensthe severity of the illness. Although clinicians acknowledge treatment nonadherence to be a major issueamong bipolar patients, assessing nonadherence is difficult, and improving treatment adherence isa complicated and delicate matter. Treatment adherence can be improved among patients with bipolardisorder through psychoeducation about the nature of their disorder and the vital importance of treatmentadherence. Founded on a biopsychosocial, medical model of mental disorders, psychoeducationempowers the patient by providing a practical and theoretical approach to understanding and dealingwith the symptoms and consequences of bipolar disorder. Psychoeducation identifies bipolar disorderas a biological abnormality that requires regular pharmacologic treatment and teaches patients to copewith symptoms and maintain regularity in daily social and occupational functioning. Psychoeducatedpatients show improvements in treatment adherence and in other clinical outcomes, including reducednumber of mood episodes and hospitalizations and increased time between episodes. As an adjunct topharmacotherapy of bipolar disorder, psychoeducation is a promising management component thatincreases treatment adherence and quality of life for patients.

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