Bipolar disorder is an extremely debilitating condition mostly because of the difficulty in treating the depressive phase of the illness. Drugs have only a limited effect so recently attention has switched to psychological treatments. A U.S. study of 293 patients compared different kinds of intensive psychotherapy (weekly and twice weekly for up to 30 session in a 9-month period) with collaborative care where patients were given 3 sessions of therapy in 6 weeks to see what was most effective. The study found that about a third of patients dropped out of collaborative care and the intensive psychotherapy but that those patients who received intensive psychotherapy were more likely to have recovered by the end of the year, recovered more quickly and were 1.58 times more likely to be well at any given time in the study than those in collaborative care. Three types of intensive psychotherapy were examined - family-focused therapy, interpersonal and social rhythym therapy and cognitive behaviour therapy - but there was little difference in the effectiveness of these approaches. The researchers concluded that future studies needed to look at balancing the extra cost of intensive therapy against its increased effectiveness in dealing with the condition.
Miklowitz, David J. ... [et al] - Psychosocial treatments for bipolar depression Archives of General Psychiatry April 2007, 64(4), 419-427