Author(s): Cha B, Kim JH, Ha TH, Chang JS, Ha K, Cha B, Kim JH, Ha TH, Chang JS, Ha K
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: The current study explored the relationship between the polarity of the first episode and the timing of eventual diagnosis of bipolar I disorder, and associated clinical implications. METHODS: Twelve years of clinical data from the medical records of 258 inpatients meeting DSM-III-R or DSM-IV criteria for bipolar I disorder were analyzed. Subjects were divided into two groups according to the polarity of the first episode: those with depressive polarity (FE-D), and those with manic polarity (FE-M). Comparisons were made between the two groups on variables associated with the timing of diagnosis and related outcomes. RESULTS: In population with bipolar I disorder, a significant longer time lapse from the first major mood episode to the confirmed diagnosis was associated with the FE-D group compared to the FE-M group [5.6 (+/-6.1) vs. 2.5 (+/-5.5) years, p<0.001]. FE-D subjects tended to have prior diagnoses of schizophrenia and major depressive disorder while FE-M subjects tended to have prior diagnoses of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. A significantly higher rate of suicide attempts was associated with the FE-D group compared to the FE-M group (12.7 vs. 1.7\%, p<0.001). CONCLUSION: The results of this study indicate that first-episode depressive polarity is likely to be followed by a considerable delay until an eventual confirmed diagnosis of bipolar I disorder. Given that first-episode depressive patients are particularly vulnerable to unfavorable clinical outcomes such as suicide attempts, a more systematic approach is needed to differentiate bipolar disorder among depressed patients in their early stages.
This article was published in Psychiatry Investig
and referenced in Journal of Psychiatry