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04-04-2013 | Mental health | Article

CBT improves dysfunctional attitudes, memory in bipolar disorder


Free abstract

medwireNews: Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) improves dysfunctional attitudes and is associated with a reduction in residual symptoms in euthymic patients with bipolar disorder, results from a French study show.

Moreover, CBT independently boosts explicit memory performance and reduces memory bias for negative words among patients with the mood disorder, report Aurélie Docteur (Sainte-Anne Hospital, Paris) and team.

"Modifying intrusive memories from the past using cognitive techniques to regulate both positive and negative thoughts and emotions could be promising in the management of bipolar illness," they comment in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry.

The findings come from a study of 57 patients with remitted bipolar disorder who were aged between 18 and 65 years and taking regular mood-stabilizing medication. Of these, 42 completed a 6-month group-CBT course while 15 remained on a waiting list (controls).

Patients assigned to receive CBT showed improvements after 6 months, compared with baseline, in Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) scores (6.17 vs 8.23), Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale scores (8.21 vs 9.60), and Dysfunctional Attitudes Scale (DAS) scores (132.50 vs 144.13). No such improvements were observed in the control group.

Patients assigned to receive 6 months of CBT also showed significant improvement in an explicit memory task compared with baseline. Specifically, they showed an increase in the total number of recalled words (12.69 vs 11.58), and in the number of recalled positive (5.57 vs 4.64) and neutral (3.12 vs 2.43) words, and a decrease in the number of recalled negative words (4.00 vs 4.49).

Again, no significant improvements were observed in controls.

The researchers note that the difference in performance on the explicit memory task between patients assigned to CBT and controls was not explained by improvements in HDRS or DAS scores in the CBT group.

Docteur et al conclude: "CBT was effective, as it improved dysfunctional attitudes and reduced remaining symptoms, but also, and independently, it improved explicit memory performance while reducing memory bias in favour of negative words."

However, they add that "longer follow-up assessments, including standardized measures of memory, in order to estimate the enduring effects of CBT on clinical and cognitive measures, are… required."

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2013

By Mark Cowen, Senior medwireNews Reporter

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