Bipolar Disorder

Psychological Treatments

TreatmentResearch Support for ManiaResearch Support for Depression
PsychoeducationStrong Research SupportModest Research Support
Systematic CareStrong Research SupportNo Research Support
Cognitive Therapy (CT)Modest Research SupportModest Research Support*
Family-Focused Therapy (FFT)No Research SupportStrong Research Support
Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy (IPSRT)No Research SupportModest Research Support*

*Although findings of two trials indicated that these treatments lead to reduced depression, they have been labeled as having modest research support due to mixed findings.


Key References

  • Fristad, M. A., Goldberg-Arnold, J. S., & Gavazzi, S. M. (2003). Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 29, 491-504.
  • Judd, L. L., Akiskal, H. S., Schettler, P. J., Endicott, J., Maser, J., et al. (2002). The long-term natural history of the weekly symptomatic status of bipolar I disorder. Archives of General Psychiatry, 59, 530-537.
  • Karkowski, L. M., & Kendler, K. S. (1997). An examination of the genetic relationship between bipolar and unipolar illness in an epidemiological sample. Psychiatric Genetics, 7, 159-163.
  • Kessler, R. C., Rubinow, D. R., Holmes, C., Abelson, J. M., & Zhao, S. (1997). The epidemiology of DSM-III-R bipolar I disorder in a general population survey. Psychological Medicine, 27, 1079-1089.
  • Van Gent, E. M., & Zwart, F. M. (1991). Psychoeducation of partners of bipolar-manic patients. Journal of Affective Disorders, 21, 15-18.
  • Cochran, S. D. (1984). Preventing medical noncompliance in the outpatient treatment of bipolar affective disorders. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 52(5), 873-878.
  • Volkmar, F. R., Bacon, S., Shakir, S. A., & Pfefferbaum, A. (1981). Group therapy in the management of manic-depressive illness. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 35, 226-234.
  • Weissman, M. M., & Myers, J. K. (1978). Affective disorders in a US urban community: The use of Research Diagnostic Criteria in an epidemiological survey. Archives of General Psychiatry, 35, 1304-1311.

Note: Medications are recommended as the first treatment for bipolar disorder (American Psychiatric Association, 2002), but we do not cover medications in this website. Of course, we recommend a consultation with a mental health professional for an accurate diagnosis and discussion of various treatment options. When you meet with a professional, be sure to work together to establish clear treatment goals and to monitor progress toward those goals. Feel free to print this information and take it with you to discuss your treatment plan with your therapist.