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BACKGROUND: Social anxiety disorder increases the likelihood of unfavourable outcomes in people with bipolar disorder. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is the first-line treatment for social anxiety disorder. However, people with bipolar disorder have been excluded from the studies that this recommendation is based on.  METHOD: We completed a case series to obtain initial data on whether CBT is an acceptable, safe, and effective treatment for social anxiety disorder in people with bipolar disorder. RESULTS: Eleven euthymic participants with bipolar disorder attended up to sixteen treatment and three follow-up sessions of CBT for social anxiety disorder. Participants attended on average 95% of the offered CBT sessions. No adverse events were reported. Participants' mean score on the Social Phobia Inventory decreased from 46.5 (SD 6.6) before the treatment to 19.8 (SD 11.9) at the end of the sixteen-session intervention and further to 15.8 (SD 10.3) by the end of the 3-month follow-up. This degree of improvement is equivalent to the effect observed in studies of CBT for social anxiety disorder in people without severe mental illness. CONCLUSIONS: This case series provides preliminary evidence that CBT is acceptable, safe, and effective for treating social anxiety disorder in people with bipolar disorder during euthymia. A randomized controlled trial is needed to confirm these findings, and to establish whether treatment for social anxiety disorder improves the course of bipolar disorder.

Original publication




Journal article


Int J Bipolar Disord

Publication Date





Bipolar disorder, Cognitive therapy, Social anxiety disorder