Author(s): Zaretsky A, Lancee W, Miller C, Harris A, Parikh SV
OBJECTIVE: Psychosocial research in bipolar disorder (BD) has not yet assessed the relative benefits of a short course of psychoeducation (PE), compared with a longer course of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) containing psychoeducational principles. This pilot study evaluated the efficacy and added benefit of adding a course of CBT to a standard course of brief PE, as maintenance therapy for BD.
METHOD: Seventy-nine consenting adult men and women with BD on stable medication regimens, who were in full or partial remission from an index episode (BD I = 52; BD II = 27), were randomized to receive either 7 sessions of individual PE, or 7 sessions of PE followed by 13 additional individual sessions of CBT. Weekly mood and medication adherence was rated using the National Institute of Mental Health's Life Chart Method, while psychosocial functioning and mental health use were assessed monthly.
RESULTS: Forty-six participants completed the entire study. Participants who received CBT in addition to PE experienced 50% fewer days of depressed mood over the course of one year. Participants who received PE alone had more antidepressant increases compared with those who received CBT. There were no group differences in hospitalization rates, medication adherence, psychosocial functioning, or mental health use.
CONCLUSIONS: Pilot data from this real-world study suggest that even after medication treatment has been optimized, a longer course of adjunctive CBT may offer some additional benefits over a shorter course of PE alone for the maintenance treatment of BD. Larger randomized controlled trials with equal treatment lengths are indicated.