Psychological interventions for adults with bipolar disorder: systematic review and meta-analysis

Br J Psychiatry. 2016 Mar;208(3):213-22. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.114.157123.


Background: Psychological interventions may be beneficial in bipolar disorder.

Aims: To evaluate the efficacy of psychological interventions for adults with bipolar disorder.

Method: A systematic review of randomised controlled trials was conducted. Outcomes were meta-analysed using RevMan and confidence assessed using the GRADE method.

Results: We included 55 trials with 6010 participants. Moderate-quality evidence associated individual psychological interventions with reduced relapses at post-treatment (risk ratio (RR) = 0.66, 95% CI 0.48-0.92) and follow-up (RR = 0.74, 95% CI 0.63-0.87), and collaborative care with a reduction in hospital admissions (RR = 0.68, 95% CI 0.49-0.94). Low-quality evidence associated group interventions with fewer depression relapses at post-treatment and follow-up, and family psychoeducation with reduced symptoms of depression and mania.

Conclusions: There is evidence that psychological interventions are effective for people with bipolar disorder. Much of the evidence was of low or very low quality thereby limiting our conclusions. Further research should identify the most effective (and cost-effective) interventions for each phase of this disorder.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Bipolar Disorder / therapy*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Counseling
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Family / psychology
  • Family Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health / standards*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Recurrence
  • Treatment Outcome