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By Traci Pedersen Associate News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on December 19, 2012

Mindfulness Cognitive Therapy Reduces Anxiety in Bipolar PatientsIn patients with bipolar disorder, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) has been shown to significantly reduce anxiety, according to researchers at the University of New South Wales.

MBCT involves traditional cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) methods, while also incorporating newer psychological strategies, such as mindfulness meditation. The goal is to become aware of and accept all incoming thoughts and feelings, but not to attach or react to them.

The newer therapy, however, seemed to have no effect on symptoms of depression or mania; nor did it reduce episodes, found the researchers during 12 months of follow up.

For the study, the team recruited 95 patients with bipolar disorder, who were at least 18 years old. They were either assigned to MBCT or typical therapy.

Those in the MBCT group received weekly mindfulness meditation practice, cognitive therapy regarding depression, and psychoeducation.

All of the participants were assessed at baseline and follow up using the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS), the Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS), the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales, and the State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI). They were also evaluated for mood episode recurrences over the study period.

Overall, 34 participants assigned to the MBCT group finished the program and were assessed at followup.

The findings revealed that there were no significant differences between the two groups regarding improvements in MADRS and YMRS scores over the 12-month study period. There were also no significant differences regarding either time to a first mood episode recurrence or the total number of recurrences over the study period.

However, patients assigned to MBCT had significantly lower anxiety scores on the STAI over the study period.

“These findings suggest that MBCT may offer some assistance in managing anxiety for those with bipolar disorder,” said researcher Tania Perich and team in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica.

But they add that “MBCT did not reduce time to recurrence of depressive or hypomanic episodes over a 12-month follow-up period, nor was it associated with a reduction in mood symptom severity scores.”

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