Effectiveness of psychosocial treatments in bipolar disorder: state of the evidence

Harv Rev Psychiatry. 2000 Sep;8(3):126-40.


Cost-effective psychotherapeutic interventions can enhance pharmacotherapy and improve outcomes in major depression and schizophrenia, but they are rarely studied in bipolar disorder, despite its often unsatisfactory response to medication alone. Following a literature search, we compiled and evaluated research reports on psychotherapeutic interventions in bipolar disorder patients. We found 32 peer-reviewed reports involving 1052 patients-14 studies on group therapy, 13 on couples or family therapy, and five on individual psychotherapy-all supplementing standard pharmacotherapy. Methodological limitations were common in these investigations. Nevertheless, important gains were often seen, as determined by objective measures of increased clinical stability and reduced rehospitalization, as well as other functional and psychosocial benefits. The results should further encourage rising international interest in testing the clinical and cost-effectiveness of psychosocial interventions in these common, often severe and disabling disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bipolar Disorder / economics
  • Bipolar Disorder / therapy*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Humans
  • Psychotherapy / economics
  • Psychotherapy / methods