Cognitive therapy may reduce anxiety in bipolar patients

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) may help reduce symptoms of anxiety in patients with bipolar disorder, researchers report.

However, Tania Perich (University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia) and team found that MBCT was not associated with significant improvements in symptoms of mania or depression, or a reduction in recurrence rates, over 12 months of follow up.

The team recruited 95 patients with bipolar disorder, aged at least 18 years, who were assigned to MBCT (n=48), or treatment as usual (TAU; n=47).

The MBCT program consisted of weekly mindfulness meditation practice, cognitive therapy regarding depression, and psychoeducation.

All of the participants were assessed at baseline and follow up using the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS), the Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS), the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales, and the State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI).

They were also assessed for mood episode recurrences over the study period.

In total, 34 participants assigned to MBCT completed the program and were assessed at follow up.

Intention-to-treat analysis revealed that there were no significant differences between MBCT and TAU regarding improvements in MADRS and YMRS scores over the 12-month study period.

There were also no significant between-group differences regarding either time to a first mood episode recurrence or the total number of recurrences over the study period.

However, patients assigned to MBCT had significantly greater reductions in state anxiety scores on the STAI over the study period, from 47.06 to 39.45, than TAU patients, from 48.57 to 42.80.

"These findings suggest that MBCT may offer some assistance in managing anxiety for those with bipolar disorder," conclude Perich et al in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica.

But they add that "MBCT did not reduce time to recurrence of depressive or hypo/manic episodes over a 12-month follow-up period, nor was it associated with a reduction in mood symptom severity scores."

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