Bipolar is best characterised by episodes of mania and/or hypomania, which is followed by periods of deep depression. The manic episodes often lead to an inflated ego or sense of self-esteem and can see the individual suffering from Bipolar become extremely driven and goal-orientated. The accompanying depressive episodes have much the opposite effect that includes feelings of apathy towards pursuits that would normally bring pleasure as well as a sense of hopelessness or unworthiness.
In the past, several studies have found psychological interventions to be beneficial to those with Bipolar Disorder, which resulted in reduced rates of relapse and hospital admissions. Most importantly, though, it was the use of group interventions specifically that were linked with the decreased instances of depression. It was these findings that led to a further study (…), focusing on the education of people with the disorder using cognitive behavioural therapy techniques to assist the process.
The purpose of the study was to examine the effects CBT-based psychoeducation groups had on the overall outlook of BD sufferers’ views on their diagnosis, perceived recovery, self-esteem and stigma. A group of 23 participants volunteered to take part in the 12-week study comprising of weekly sessions of which 20 completed the full length of the program. In the first instance, the relatively low drop-out rate of only three people gave credence to the idea providing psychological intervention in this manner was a format people would respond positively to and could be used again in the future.
In terms of the actual findings, the results from the questionnaire given to the participants before and after taking part showed there was a definite shift in the perception of their recovery. The study also found it created an improved understanding of BD, which led to participants having much greater control over their symptoms through recognising their triggers. Those who took part reported that they now had a better working knowledge of their thinking patterns and behaviour in relation to how they experienced episodes of relapse. What this ultimately points to is a better quality of life for those suffering from the condition.
Going forward, what this means for people with a longstanding history of bipolar is there is now another avenue to explore that could and most probably should be made available based on the findings. If facilitated properly by a skilled therapist, a group dynamic can help sufferers learn the coping skills to manage their condition by creating a sense of shared responsibility with one another. Group settings are useful in allowing people to see a reflection of themselves through the act of empathising with others situation and so can better understand with their own challenges. Group-based CBT sessions might be the next breakthrough development for sufferers of Bipolar.