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Group Therapy May Help The Course Of Bipolar Disorder

Group TherapyIn the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, a randomized controlled trial indicates that group therapy may affect the course of bipolar disorder. This study evaluated the effectiveness of adjunctive cognitive behavioral group therapy (CBGT) to prevent recurrence of episodes in 50 euthymic patients with bipolar disorder, types I and II. Patients were followed up for at least 12 months in an outpatient service.

An experimental CBGT manual was developed and added to ‘treatment as usual,’ and results were compared with treatment as usual alone. Intention-to-treat analysis showed that there was no difference between groups in terms of time until any relapse (p = 0.414). When considering type of relapse, there was still no difference in either depressive (p = 0.068) or manic episodes (p = 0.221). Although occurrence of episodes also did not differ between groups (p = 0.59), median time to relapse was longer for patients treated with CBGT compared to the treatment as usual group (p = 0.011).

Time to recurrence and number of episodes were not different in the group of patients treated with CBGT. However, median time to relapse was shorter in the treatment as usual group. Studies with larger samples may help to clarify whether this CBGT approach prevents new episodes of bipolar disorder. These findings also indicated that CBGT is feasible in euthymic patients with bipolar disorder and should be investigated in future studies.

Material adapted from Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics

Gomes, B.C. ; Abreu, L.N. ; Brietzke, E. ; Caetano, S.C. ; Kleinman, A. ; Nery, F.G. ; Lafer, B. A Randomized Controlled Trial of Cognitive Behavioral Group Therapy for Bipolar Disorder. Psychother Psychosom 2011;80:144-150.

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