Mindfulness as a treatment for Bipolar disorder

Mindfulness has become an increasingly popular in recent years. Research has found mindfulness based therapy to be successful as part of a treatment for depression (Hofmann et al., 2010). This is of particular interest for the treatment for bipolar disorder, where treating depressive symptoms has to be carefully managed to avoid an increase in manic symptoms. This article will outline the main points relating to bipolar disorder, mindfulness, mindfulness based cognitive therapy, and six studies which have looked specifically at MBCT and its effectiveness as a treatment for bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder is one of the top 10 most disabling conditions in the world (Kupfer, 2005). It effects an estimated 1 percent of the population in its classic manic-depressive form (Weissman et al., 1996), also known as the bipolar I subtype. An additional 2 percent of the population suffer from other subtypes and related disorders (Kupfer, 2005). The pathogenesis of the disorder remains a subject of study, with genetic factors possibly contributing to bipolar risk (Fears et al., 2014). In 1995, the estimated cost of the disorder in the US alone was $45 billion per annum (Wyatt et al., 1995). On average, one-fifth of individuals with bipolar die by suicide (Jamison, 1996). It “may account for one-quarter of all completed suicides” (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders ???, 2013, p131). Episodes of hypomanic and depressive mood and energy levels characterise bipolar and related disorders.