Dr. Greg Murray’s presentation drew on several Australian and international research projects he has been involved with, which have shown that psychotherapy alongside medication is more effective at treating bipolar disorder than medication alone. Murray is a Swinburne University of Technology psychology researcher.
“There is growing evidence that the addition of these sorts of interventions improve outcomes for people with bipolar disorder by improving their symptoms and quality of life,” he said. “These types of therapy can assist patients to identify unproductive thoughts, to restore social rhythms, to track mood changes and to explore the meanings behind them.”
“In the context of growing evidence for the usefulness of cognitive behavioural therapy in bipolar disorder, it’s important to recognise that Medicare rebates support people with bipolar disorder to receive these interventions from clinical psychologists,” he said.
Recent suggestions that Medicare funding for psychological services may be under review concern Dr. Murray greatly.
“All of this research is premised on the assumption that psychosocial treatments are available to the people who need them, not just those who can afford them.”
Bipolar disorder sufferers experience bouts of serious depression and high mania in cyclic patterns. Their moods will swing from extremely high, europhic or anxious/irritated mood to extremes of sadness and hopelessness. Between acute episodes, people typically function well. Quality of life can be seriously impacted by bipolar disorder, but many patients effectively manage the disorder so it doesn’t interfere substantially with their life goals.
Included in Dr. Murray’s studies is a project funded by beyondblue: the national depression initiative which supported group therapy programs for bipolar disorder, run through the Swinburne Psychology Clinic.
Beyondblue is also funding a web-based version of this group program — Mood Swings: An online intervention aide for bipolar disorder, in which sufferers can go online and access self-help modules and discussion boards.
Dr. Murray is presented his findings at the Reconnexion national conference in Melbourne on Thursday.
Source: Swinburne University of Technology