Schooling Bipolar Treatment

Bipolar patients receiving education about the disorder fared as well as those in therapy

July 21, 2012 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

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(dailyRx News) Patients with bipolar often continue therapy even when symptoms are mild, to try and avoid relapse.

A recent study found that intensive education about bipolar symptoms and treatments worked just as well as longer and more costly cognitive behavioral therapy at preventing relapse of bipolar symptoms.

"Talk to your psychiatrist about mental health programs."

The study, led by Sagar Parikh, MD, of Toronto Western Hospital in Canada, compared a psychoeducation program to a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for the treatment of bipolar disorder.

Psychoeducation programs provide in-depth information about a disorder, its treatments, and tips on living with the disorder. CBT is a talk therapy that focuses on changing thoughts and behaviors to improve functioning.

Dr. Parikh’s study looked at 204 people with bipolar disorder (either type I or type II) who were doing well or had only low-level symptoms. The participants received either 20 individual CBT sessions or six group sessions of psychoeducation.

The researchers found that people in both treatment groups showed similar levels of symptom improvement over the 18 months they tracked symptoms.  Relapse rates for people in the study were similar for both treatment groups.

They estimated that group psychoeducation cost about $180 per patient, while CBT cost about $1200 per patient.  These values are in Canadian dollars, so US costs would be slightly different.

The authors concluded that group psychoeducation was just as effective as CBT in preventing relapse for patients that were doing well.

The authors said in their recent abstract, “Psychoeducation is less expensive to provide and requires less clinician training to deliver, suggesting its comparative attractiveness.”

This study was published in June in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Financial disclosure information was not available.

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Review Date: 
July 18, 2012
Last Updated:
February 1, 2013