Talking therapies offer new hope to Bipolar Disorder patients

‘Talking therapies’ have been proven to help many people – and a recent study which has just been published in the British Journal of Psychiatry has suggested that the patients who have recently been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder could stand a better chance of recovery if they are treated with talking therapies along with their medication.
The new research, which was published this month, looked at a group of people who had recently been diagnosed with the disorder, and who had been given an average of 14 CBT  (Cognitive behavioural therapy) sessions. The treatment sessions were given along with the usual medications and support that patients with the disorder normally receive, supported by their GP, local community mental health teams and/or psychiatry.
Another group of 34 people who had also been recently diagnosed were used as a control group for the study, and this group received ‘treatment as usual’ in a randomised controlled trial.
It was found that the group who had the benefit of the talking therapy, which helped them to address their thinking patterns and the way that these affected their behaviour, made a better and a ‘more sustained’ recovery from their symptoms. Compared with ‘treatment as usual’, the people who were given the extra therapy benefited from significantly improved personal recovery rates in the period up to their 12-month follow-up and the amount of time between mood relapses was also increased in the period up to their 15 month follow-up
Professor Steven Jones from Lancaster University’s Spectrum Centre, who headed the study, was very pleased with the results, which he described as “very promising”.
He said: “Compared with the group who were only receiving treatment as usual, recovery-focused CBT (Cognitive behavioural therapy) significantly improved personal recovery up to 12-months after the therapy ended. This is an important result as better recovery outcomes can allow people to get on with their lives rather than having their lives controlled by their experience of bipolar disorder.
“Recovery enables people to feel able to take a lead in managing their own health, engage in activities which are personally meaningful and see recovery itself as a long term and potentially fluctuating process.
Health professionals, government and people who have been diagnosed with the disorder all know how important it is to improve recovery rates and times, and with Bipolar in particular, recent NICE guidelines have highlighted the fact that more people can return to a fulfilling life, and get back to work, when they are given optimal treatment. This study will hopefully give people more options and help them to manage their condition more effectively.

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