Previous studies have supported acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) for reducing impairment related to various chronic conditions. ACT may possibly be beneficial for bipolar disorder (BD) with co-existing anxiety, which is associated with a poorer treatment outcome. Efforts are needed to identify suitable psychological interventions for BD and co-existing anxiety. In this open clinical trial, we included 26 patients with BD type 1 or 2 at an outpatient psychiatric unit specializing in affective disorders. The intervention consisted of a 12-session manualized group treatment that included psychoeducation, mindfulness, engaging in values-based behaviour, cognitive defusion, acceptance and relapse prevention modules. Participants completed four self-report questionnaires covering anxiety symptoms (Beck Anxiety Inventory – BAI), depressive symptoms (Beck Depression Inventory – BDI-II), quality of life (Quality of Life Inventory – QOLI) and psychological flexibility (Acceptance and Action Questionnaire – AAQ-2) before, during and after the treatment. At post-treatment, the participants reported significant improvements in all outcome measures, with large effects (Cohen’s d between 0.73 and 1.98). The mean reduction in anxiety symptoms was 45%. At post-treatment, 96% of the patients were classified as responders on at least one of the outcome measures. A limitation is that the trial is uncontrolled. The results suggest that ACT has the potential to be an effective treatment for BD patients with co-existing anxiety. Further randomized studies are warranted.
Read the full paper: Pankowski, S., Adler, M., Andersson, G., Lindefors, N., & Svanborg, C. (2017). Group acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) for bipolar disorder and co-existing anxiety–an open pilot study. Cognitive behaviour therapy, 46(2), 114-128. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/16506073.2016.1231218
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