Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) may improve mood, emotional regulation, well-being, and functioning in individuals with bipolar disorder, according to a study published in the February 2012 issue of CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics.

Bipolar disorder is a serious brain condition that causes extreme shifts in mood, energy and functioning. The condition, which is characterised by episodes of mania and depression that can last from days to months, usually begins in late adolescence but it can begin in early childhood or as late as a person's 40s or 50s. There appears to be a strong genetic component related to bipolar disorder, but genetics do not always predict who will develop the disorder. Bipolar disorder is a chronic and generally life-long condition, requiring life-long treatment. The illness can be managed, but unfortunately not cured---at least not as yet.

Dr Thilo Deckersbach (pictured above), of the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and associates explored the role of MBCT in 12 patients with bipolar disorder. Participants underwent a baseline clinical assessment, and were then treated with 12 group MBCT sessions. Participants were assessed after treatment and at a 3-month follow-up.

The researchers found that participants demonstrated the following (both at the end of the MBCT sessions as well as at the 3-month follow-up): improved mindfulness; fewer residual depressive mood symptoms; less difficulty paying attention; and increased emotion-regulation abilities, psychological well-being, positive affect and psychosocial functioning.

‘Results of this clinical trial suggest that it may be worthwhile to further investigate whether this version of MBCT for bipolar disorder may become a treatment option for patients with residual mood symptoms in the menu of already empirically supported approaches (eg family therapy, interpersonal and social rhythm therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy), especially for patients with a more chronic course of the illness,’ the authors write.

Resource: Deckersbach, D, et al. ‘Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Nonremitted Patients with Bipolar Disorder’, CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics, vol 18, issue 2, 133–141 (Feb 2012). DOI: 10.1111/j.1755-5949.2011.00236.x
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