Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 24, Issue 5, pp 503-520

First online:

Cognitive Therapy for Bipolar Illness—A Pilot Study of Relapse Prevention

  • Dominic H. LamAffiliated withInstitute of Psychiatry
  • , Jeny BrightAffiliated withInstitute of Psychiatry
  • , Steve JonesAffiliated withRochdale NHS Trust
  • , Peter HaywardAffiliated withInstitute of Psychiatry
  • , Nikki SchuckAffiliated withInstitute of Psychiatry
  • , Daniel ChisholmAffiliated withInstitute of Psychiatry
  • , Pak ShamAffiliated withInstitute of Psychiatry

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Twenty-five (25) bipolar patients taking mood stabilizers and yet still relapsing were recruited into a randomized controlled pilot cognitive therapy study. All subjects were taking mood stabilizers on recruitment. The control group had treatment as usual—that is, the usual outpatients and multidisciplinary team input. The therapy group received between 12 and 20 sessions of cognitive therapy adapted for bipolar illness in addition to treatment as usual. Therapy consisted of a relapse prevention approach and lasted 6 months. Independent assessments showed that the therapy group had significantly fewer bipolar episodes, higher social functioning, and better coping strategies for bipolar prodromes. Furthermore, there was evidence of less fluctuation in symptoms of mania and depression, less hopelessness, and better medication compliance from subjects' monthly self reports. There was no evidence that improvement in the therapy group was due to more medication being prescribed. In fact, there were significantly less neuroleptics being prescribed in the therapy group for the 6 months after therapy. A further study with a larger sample size and longer follow-up period is warranted.

bipolar cognitive therapy prodrome