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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Role of animal models in the development of behavioral treatment for bipolar disorder


Bipolar disorder is difficult to capture in a single animal model, so far proving impossible.  Models have evaluated the neurobiological, genetic, pharmacological and behavioral aspects, both in seclusion and in various combinations, but have yet to prove construct or face validity or led to highly effective treatment models.   One area where animal models are having success is when animal models shape behavioral treatment.  Third wave behavioral therapies and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) have shown decreased relapse and re-hospitalization at 1 year follow up, increased medication compliance and increased family support.  Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Dialectal Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Family Focused Treatment (FFT) that include problem solving, family education and self-management have shown success across setting such as school, home and community, especially when used as part of the overall treatment package with medication. While a single model is unable to encompass all areas of need for a disorder as complex as bipolar disorder, continued research should allow for new treatment models to emerge.

Keywords :  Bipolar disorder, animal models, cognitive behavior therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, applied behavior analysis, family focused therapy

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