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September 8, 2005

Bipolar I Disorder Mostly Depressive

Bipolar I disorder is characterized by full manic episodes and moderate to mild depression. But a new study shows that depression predominates in bipolar I disorder, in terms of the amount of time that one is in either phase. Researchers used information from 146 individuals with bipolar I disorder. They had all took part in the National Institute of Mental Health Collaborative Depression study between 1978 and 1981.

They followed up on patients for an average of 12.8 years, during which they were ill (dealing with symptoms of the disorder) nearly half of the time.

"Furthermore, the occurrence of depressive symptoms predominated in 31.9% of total follow-up weeks, followed by manic/hypomanic in 8.9 % of weeks, and cycling/mixed symptoms in 5.8% of weeks. Interestingly, subsyndromal, minor depressive, and hypomanic symptoms were almost three times more frequent than syndromal-level major depressive and manic symptoms, the team reports" (PsychiatryMatters.MD).

Only a little over half of those with bipolar I disorder wxperienced psychosis, and when they did it was usually due to a manic episode. The group as a whole changed symptom status an average of 6 times a year. Polarity changed more than 3 times a year. The researchers stated that their findings supported the fact that this a dimensional illness with "a full spectrum of affective symptom severity and polarity."

Original Source: Bipolar I disorders predominantly depressive. PsychiatryMatters.MD.

This research study was published in Arch Gen Psychiatry 2002; 59: 530–537.

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