Mental or psychological disorders affect a person’s feelings, mood, and thinking, leading to distress. Bipolar disorder (BD) is a mental illness associated with shifts in mood and changes in activity and energy levels. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in four people has a mental disorder (as cited in Zettle & Hayes, 2016). This paper will look at the impact BD has on an individual and the treatment options available for such people.
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BD is a lifetime condition that can result in unproductive life if left untreated. There are various forms of BD, such as mania, hypomania, and cyclothymia (Jauhar et al., 2016). Pharmacotherapy is considered the first-line treatment of this mental disorder (Chiang et al., 2017). Medications help in mood stabilization and are aimed at keeping symptoms under control. However, an effective bipolar treatment should depend not only on drugs but also on psychotherapy, education, and lifestyle management. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is commonly used as an additional non-pharmacological treatment of BD. CBT therapists help patients uncover their negative thinking patterns affecting their emotions and behavior and develop a more healthy view of the world and themselves (Chatterton et al., 2017). The knowledge gained during CBT sessions helps patients adopt more positive attitudes, which may reduce the risk of a relapse.
The treatment of BD by CBT is widely supported by research. Chiang et al. (2017) conducted a systematic review of 19 randomized controlled trials comprising 1384 patients and found out that CBT was effective in improving depressive symptoms and reducing the relapse rate and mania severity. Researchers also reported that, after CBT, the relapse rate in patients with BD I, which is characterized by severe mania episodes, was lower than that in patients with BD II (Chiang et al., 2017). Alternative therapies for BD include family-focused therapy (FFT), carer-focused interventions, and psychoeducation (Chatterton et al., 2017). FFT focuses on the education of the whole family and relationship improvement; career-focused interventions are directed toward educating the patient’s carer or family member; psychoeducation involved educating the patient about the disorder and its consequences (Chatterton et al., 2017). A systematic review by Chatterton et al. (2017) showed that CBT, especially in combination with psychoeducation, more effectively reduced mania symptoms and the risk of medication non-adherence and improved the global assessment of functioning score. However, FFT and carer-focused interventions were more effective in reducing the relapse rate because of increased family support.
Chatterton, M. L., Stockings, E., Berk, M., Barendregt, J. J., Carter, R., & Mihalopoulos, C. (2017). Psychosocial therapies for the adjunctive treatment of bipolar disorder in adults: Network meta-analysis. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 210, 333–341. Web.
Chiang, K.-J., Tsai, J.-C., Liu, D., Lin, C.-H., Chiu, H.-L., & Chou, K.-R. (2017). Efficacy of cognitive-behavioral therapy in patients with bipolar disorder: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. PLoS ONE, 12(5), 1–19. Web.
Jauhar, S., McKenna, P. J., & Laws, K. R. (2016). NICE guidance on psychological treatments for bipolar disorder: Searching for the evidence. The Lancet Psychiatry, 3(4), 386–388. Web.
Zettle, R. D., & Hayes, S. C. (2016). Rule-governed behavior: A potential theoretical framework for cognitive-behavioral therapy. In S. C. Hayes (Ed.), World library of mental health (pp. 7–37). Routledge.
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