Social rhythm interventions for bipolar disorder: a systematic review and rationale for practice

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Three interconnected pathways to relapse have been identified as stressful life events, medication non-adherence and disruptions in social rhythms (daily activity and routine). The role of medication and stressful life events is generally better understood than the role of social rhythms. There is no previous review of interventions that target social rhythms.


To identify the evidence for the effectiveness of interventions that target social rhythms for improving mood symptoms.


A quantitative systematic review was conducted.


Seven studies were included in the review: four reporting interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT) interventions and three sleep/light interventions.


The results suggest that IPSRT may have a potential benefit in improving mood symptoms and relapse, but it is not clear whether this is of greater benefit than an intensive supportive care intervention of similar duration. The sleep/light interventions demonstrated rapid mood improvements; however, it was not clear how long this improvement was sustained.

Implications for practice:

Attention to social rhythms and the implementation of interventions that target these could be useful for mental health nursing practice may provide people with BD a clinically effective adjunctive intervention to medication.

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