Hope for bipolar adolescents utilizing family focused therapy
A recent study has found great rates of recovery for bipolar adolescents utilizing family focused therapy and medication. According to the study, adolescents that participated in either intense family-focused therapy or less intense enhanced care experienced 90% recovery after two years from their original mood episode; however, teens in family-focused therapy recovered faster. Cases of mania did not seem to improve due to either form of therapy. The following is an excerpt of an article from Medpage Today that reviews the findings from the study:
Of bipolar patients, 50% to 60% have illness onset before age 18, and 13% to 28% before age 13, the researchers wrote.
Early onset is associated with an unremitting course of illness, frequent switches of polarity, mixed episodes, psychosis, a high suicide rate, and poor functioning or quality of life.
In the past decade, they added, there’s been a remarkable increase in drug trials for patients with early-onset disorder, but comparatively little controlled study of psychotherapy.
Their randomized controlled trial with two-year follow-up included 58 bipolar adolescents, mean age 14.5, who’d had a mood episode in the prior three months.
Of the participants, 38 had bipolar I, six had bipolar II, and 14 had no otherwise specified disorder. Among the patients, 25 had subsyndromal episodes, 18 had depressive episodes, and 12 had manic episodes.
The family-focused therapy lasted for nine months and consisted of 21 50-minute sessions (weekly for 12 weeks, every other week for another 12 weeks, then one a month for six months). Sessions were attended by the patient, parents, and available siblings.
Patients and family members were encouraged to understand the symptoms, etiology, course of the illness, and precipitants for recurrence. They were also encouraged to adhere to drug therapy and to conduct a relapse-prevention drill.