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Keywords:

  • affective disorder;
  • bipolar disorder;
  • interpersonal psychotherapy;
  • psychotherapy

Objectives:  We conducted a proof of concept study to determine the feasibility of using an individual psychotherapy, Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy (IPSRT), as monotherapy for the acute treatment of bipolar II depression.

Methods:  Unmedicated individuals (n = 17) meeting DSM-IV criteria for bipolar II disorder and currently depressed received weekly psychotherapy (IPSRT) for 12 weeks. After 12 weeks of acute treatment, individuals received an additional 8 weeks of follow-up treatment consisting of continued weekly IPSRT with supplementary lamotrogine for IPSRT non-responders.

Results:  By week 12, 41% (n = 7) of the sample responded to IPSRT monotherapy (defined as ≥50% reduction in depression scores without an increase in mania scores), 41% (n = 7) dropped out of or were removed from the study, and 18% (n = 3) did not respond to treatment. By week 20, 53% (n = 9) had achieved a response and 29% (n = 5) achieved a full remission of symptoms.

Conclusions:  Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy appears to be a promising intervention for a subset of individuals with bipolar II depression. A randomized controlled trial is needed to systematically evaluate the efficacy of IPSRT as an acute monotherapy for bipolar II depression.