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J Affect Disord. 2001 Jul;65(2):145-53.

Group cognitive behavioral therapy for bipolar disorder: a feasibility and effectiveness study.

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Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital, Mood Disorders Program, 100 West 5th St., Hamilton, Ontario L8N 3K7, Canada.



Bipolar disorder (BD) is a common disorder that results in significant psychosocial impairment, including diminished quality of life and functioning, despite aggressive pharmacotherapy. Psychosocial interventions that target functional factors could be beneficial for this population, and we hypothesized that the addition of group cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to maintenance pharmacotherapy would improve functioning and quality of life.


Patients diagnosed (by SCID) with bipolar disorder attending an outpatient clinic of a mood disorders program participated in the study. All patients were on maintenance mood stabilizers, and were required to have controlled symptoms before entering the study. Mood symptoms were assessed with the Hamilton Depression Rating scale and Young Mania scale at baseline and 14 weeks. Objective and subjective functioning was rated at the same interval using the Global Assessment of Functioning scale and the Medical Outcomes Survey SF-36. Treatment was provided via a specific manual based on CBT principles that could be applied to this population.


Forty nine patients participated in this open trial, and 38 patients completed treatment. Objective and subjective indices of impairment showed improvement after 14 weeks. Both GAF and MOS scores increased significantly by the end of treatment.


This study was an open trial, and lack of control groups limits the interpretation of results. Because the study concerned effectiveness, the results do not clarify whether the improvement represents the normal course of illness or whether it is the result of the CBT intervention.


The addition of group CBT to standard pharmacological treatment was acceptable to patients, and nearly 80% of patients complied with treatment. Despite the fact that mood symptoms were controlled at entry into the study, psychosocial functioning increased significantly at the end of treatment. Adjunctive CBT should be further investigated in this population.

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