Researchers develop emotion-focused therapy for bipolar disordertext_fields
Scientists have developed a potential treatment for bipolar disorder. This new therapy focused on emotional awareness is expected to be effective in long-term treatment and relapse prevention.
The new method focuses on emotional awareness that increases activation and connectivity of the amygdala, an emotion-regulating centre in the brain. Lead author Kristina Meyer of Berlin University said that researchers investigated the impact of two psychotherapeutic interventions on BD symptoms and on amygdala activation and connectivity with other emotion-related brain regions using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
Bipolar disorder patients experience alternating extreme mood states that impair social functioning. Its complex mechanism makes it hard to treat. Doctors are often forced to give several medications to keep the symptoms under control and provide behavioural interventions that may or may not work.
The amygdala is a pair of small, bilateral regions in the brain’s limbic system. It helps to regulate emotions and detect salient stimuli. Now, new research has shown that bipolar patients display altered activation and functional connectivity of the amygdala when they are not in a manic episode.
During the new therapy, patients were guided to perceive and label their emotions without avoidance or suppression.
"In line with our expectations, the patients participating in the emotion-focused therapy showed an increased activation and connectivity of the amygdala post-intervention compared to the patients receiving the cognitive-behavioural intervention, which may reflect improved emotion processing and increased tolerance towards negative emotions," said the researcher.
During the second intervention, cognitive behavioural therapy was given focused on social interactions. They did demonstrate increased activation of brain regions related to social function but not altered amygdala activity.