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Can J Psychiatry. 2007 Jan;52(1):14-21.

How well do psychosocial interventions work in bipolar disorder?

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto Medical School, Ontario.



Although medication is the mainstay of treatment for bipolar disorder, several adjunctive psychosocial interventions have been manualized over the last decade. This paper's objective is to empirically evaluate the different treatment approaches.


We conducted a systematic review of the recent literature pertaining to psychosocial interventions in bipolar, using MEDLINE and PsycINFO. Bibliographies of papers were scrutinized for further relevant references. Articles published from 1999 up to and including 2006 were reviewed. Randomized controlled trials were emphasized.


Although psychological models of bipolar disorder fail to inform the psychotherapy treatment to the same extent as in unipolar depression, manualized adjunctive, short-term psychotherapies have been shown to offer fairly consistent benefits to bipolar disorder patients. Cognitive-behavioural therapy, family-focused therapy, and psychoeducation offer the most robust efficacy in regard to relapse prevention, while interpersonal therapy and cognitive-behavioural therapy may offer more benefit in treating residual depressive symptoms.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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