A North West clinical trial of people who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder for less than five years will be the first study of its kind to shed light on how new treatments could be more effective in the early stages of the condition.
Lancaster University's Spectrum Centre for Mental Health Research, a research centre dedicated to research aiming to improve the day to day lives of people living with bipolar disorder, will test a new intervention called Recovery focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy on volunteers from eleven NHS Trusts in the North West of England.
Two groups of volunteers are being recruited, each consisting of 30 individuals with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. One of the two groups will receive Recovery focused CBT and their performance on a number of measures will be compared with the other group who will be receiving treatment as usual.
Recovery focused CBT is different from traditional CBT because it is driven by an individual's own therapeutic goals and sessions are specifically tailored to the needs and individual bipolar experiences. Also, it does not require people to conform to a specific pattern of illness. Importantly, the focus of the therapy is not limited to the mood related experiences of the service users and they will be encouraged to bring into the therapy sessions other day-to-day challenges that limit their potential. The trial will include the services of trained mental health professionals who will offer up to 18 hours of face-to-face therapy over a period of six months.
It is anticipated that the results of the study will also inform how early treatment can help people with severe mental illness in general.
Professor Steven Jones of Lancaster University's Spectrum Centre explained: