Combined Therapy is Effective for Patients with Refractory Bipolar Disorder in the Long-Term

According to a recent study published in European Psychiatry, a combined treatment, including cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), psycho-education, and pharmacology results in greater long-term efficacy in patients with refractory bipolar disorder than standard pharmacological treatment.

The current study is a 5-year follow-up to a previous trial which examined the differences in efficacy for patients (n=40) with treatment resistant bipolar disorder who were randomly assigned to an experimental group that used a combined therapy, or control group that used pharmacology alone.  There were multiple evaluation points (6-months, 12-months, and 5-years) and at each follow-up, the between-group differences remained significant.

At all follow-up points, the combined therapy group had lower depression and anxiety scores. They also showed significant differences in mania and maladjustment at post-treatment, which were sustained through the 6-month, 12-month, and 5-year evaluation points. Further, the experimental group had fewer hospitalizations at the 12-month evaluation point. At the 5-year follow-up, 88.9% of patients who received pharmacological treatment alone continued to show persistent affective symptoms and/or difficulties in social-occupational functioning, compared to just 20% of patients who received the combined therapy treatment.

These findings suggest that a combined therapy, including CBT, psycho-education, and pharmacology may be quite helpful for patients with refractory bipolar disorder in the long term and superior to pharmacological treatment, alone.

González, I. A., Echeburúa, E., Limiñana, J. M., & González-Pinto, A. (2012) Psychoeducation and cognitive-behavioral therapy for patients with refractory bipolar disorder: A 5-year controlled clinical trial. European Psychiatry. In Press

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About Cognitive Behavior Therapy News | Beck Institute Blog

Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy is a non-profit organization founded in 1994 as an outgrowth of Dr. Aaron T. Beck’s original Center for Cognitive Therapy at the University of Pennsylvania. Today Beck Institute is an international training and resource center for health and mental health professionals, educators, and students worldwide. In addition to offering training programs at our Philadelphia location, we help create or improve cognitive behavior therapy programs at universities, hospitals, community mental health centers, health systems, and other institutions. Beck Institute also provides clinical mental health services and consultations and promotes research in the field.
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