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Bipolar disorder in adults: Psychoeducation and other adjunctive maintenance psychotherapies

Eduard Vieta, MD, PhD
Francesc Colom, PhD, PsyD, MSc
Section Editor
Paul Keck, MD
Deputy Editor
David Solomon, MD


Psychoeducation includes helping patients accept their condition, explaining the clinical features and treatment options, and encouraging them to anticipate problems and be proactive in managing the illness. Educating bipolar patients about their illness can improve adherence to treatment and the course of illness. The word “doctor” is derived from the Latin verb docere, which means to teach.

This topic reviews psychoeducation and other adjunctive maintenance psychotherapies for preventing or delaying recurrent bipolar mood episodes. Choosing maintenance treatment (including pharmacotherapy) for bipolar disorder is discussed separately. (See "Bipolar disorder in adults: Choosing maintenance treatment".)


Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that is characterized by episodes of mania (table 1), hypomania (table 2), and major depression (table 3) [1]. The subtypes of bipolar disorder include bipolar I and bipolar II. Patients with bipolar I disorder experience manic episodes, and nearly always experience hypomanic and major depressive episodes. Bipolar II disorder is marked by at least one hypomanic episode, at least one major depressive episode, and the absence of manic episodes. Additional information about the clinical features and diagnosis of bipolar disorder is discussed separately. (See "Bipolar disorder in adults: Clinical features" and "Bipolar disorder in adults: Assessment and diagnosis", section on 'Diagnosis'.)


Psychotherapies that have been studied in randomized trials as adjunctive maintenance treatments for bipolar disorder include [2,3]:

Group psychoeducation


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Literature review current through: Feb 2017. | This topic last updated: Jan 12, 2016.
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