What’s Best for Treating Bipolar Disorder?

What’s Best for Treating Bipolar Disorder?

October 19, 2020 Off By administrator

MONDAY, Oct. 19, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Combining medication with group or family-based therapy gives patients struggling with bipolar disorder their best shot at living stable lives, a new review suggests.

“People with bipolar disorder have significant mood swings, from periods of depression to mania,” explained study author David Miklowitz, a professor of psychiatry with UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Behavior.

“These episodes can last anywhere from a few days to weeks” before patients enter a so-called “recovery period,” Miklowitz explained. That is the point at which “people gradually stabilize in mood and try to return to their day-to-day responsibilities,” he said.

During recovery, some patients simply continue to receive psychiatric monitoring while taking medication, which typically involves mood stabilizers and antipsychotic drugs.

However, recovery can also be the ideal time to begin therapy alongside medications, Miklowitz noted.

And after comparing the effectiveness of medication alone against medication plus therapy, Miklowitz’s review concluded that more is more: Patients fared better at keeping mania and depression at bay through a combination of medication and therapy.

That was particularly true when therapy was conducted in a group setting or with family members.

The finding made sense to Dr.Timothy Sullivan, chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Staten Island University Hospital in New York City. He noted that most other studies “show that combining some form of psycho-therapy treatment with medications results in improved outcomes.” Sullivan wasn’t involved in the new research.

Miklowitz and colleagues reported their findings Oct. 14 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

Miklowitz noted that among bipolar patients depressive symptoms include low mood, sadness, inertia, fatigue, loss of interests in things, suicidal thoughts or attempts, and/or insomnia.

On the other hand, when bipolar patients experience mania, that can take the form of intense periods of excitement, euphoria, severe irritability with little need for sleep, increased energy and activity, and/or rapid-fire thinking and speech. It may also involve “grandiose thinking,” such as believing one is famous or endowed with “special powers.”

The review focused on 36 investigations involving adults and three involving adolescents, with a combined total of nearly 3,900 bipolar patients. Collectively the average age was about 37, with women accounting for roughly 60% of the patients.

Prior to each study launch, participants had already been taking medications for their bipolar disorder. In turn, some were randomly assigned to just stick with their prior care (with psychiatric support and monitoring). Others, however, were randomly assigned to participate in individual therapy, therapy involving family members or group therapy (without the involvement of close family members).

Broadly speaking, the various forms of therapy all…

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