Friday, March 21, 2014

Family-Focused Therapy Reduces Bipolar-Associated Symptoms in Teens, Study Finds

Family-focused treatments have been found to be an effective adjunctive therapy to mood stabilizing medicine in adults with bipolar disorder, but whether this approach holds true in adolescents, has been unclear. Researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) evaluated 145 adolescents with bipolar disorder to determine if combinational pharmacotherapy and nine months of family-focused therapy (FFT) was more effective than pharmacotherapy with brief psychoeducation in reducing the severity of bipolar-associated symptoms, the recovery time from episodes, and incidence of bipolar episodes. The study, “Pharmacotherapy and Family-Focused Treatment for Adolescents with Bipolar I and II Disorders: A 2-Year Randomized Trial,” is published in AJP in Advance.

Study results showed that adolescents receiving combinational pharmacotherapy and FFT were more likely to have less-severe manic symptoms after two years than those receiving pharmacotherapy with brief psychoeducation. The researchers found no significant difference in recovery time and recurrence of episodes among the two treatment groups.

“The emphasis in FFT on early recognition of prodromal signs of recurrence and communication and problem-solving skills may not translate into benefits for patients until families have implemented these strategies during new cycles of illness,” David Miklowitz, Ph.D, director of the Children and Adolescent Mood Disorders Program at UCLA, told Psychiatric News. Miklowitz concluded that intensive family interventions may be most useful when high family stress and the long-term course of hypomanic or manic symptoms are primary treatment targets.

To read more about bipolar disorder in adolescents, see the Psychiatric News article, “Targeting Specific Factors Might Improve Bipolar Disorder Outcomes." For comprehensive information about treating adolescents with bipolar disorder and other psychiatric illnesses, see Clinical Manual of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, Second Edition from American Psychiatric Publishing.

(Image: Oleg_Mit/


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