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A Review of Evidence-Based Psychosocial Interventions for Bipolar Disorder

David J. Miklowitz, PhD

Published: August 15, 2006

Article Abstract

Various forms of psychosocial intervention have been found efficacious as adjunctive treatments for bipolar disorder, including family-focused therapy, interpersonal and social rhythm therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and individual or group psychoeducation. When used in conjunction with pharmacotherapy, these interventions may prolong time to relapse, reduce symptom severity, and increase medication adherence. Family-focused therapy seeks to reduce the high levels of stress and conflict in the families of bipolar patients, thereby improving the patient’s illness course. Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy focuses on stabilizing the daily and nightly routines of bipolar patients and resolving key interpersonal problems. Cognitive-behavioral therapy assists patients in modifying dysfunctional cognitions and behaviors that may aggravate the course of bipolar disorder. Group psychoeducation provides a supportive, interactive setting in which patients learn about their disorder and how to cope with it. This article discusses each of these interventions and summarizes the evidence for their efficacy in randomized trials. Recommendations for implementing psychosocial interventions in clinical practice are also given.

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