More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Impulsivity is a stable characteristic of bipolar disorder
14 June 2007
J Affect Disord 2007; 100: 227-231

Impulsivity is a stable characteristic of bipolar disorder, present in manic, euthymic, and depressed bipolar patients, research shows.

Impulsivity is a key component of manic behavior in bipolar disorder, but it has not been widely studied in euthymic and depressed bipolar patients, the team explains in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

M Peluso (University of Sao Paolo, Brazil) and colleagues evaluated impulsivity by applying the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS) to 24 depressed bipolar patients, 24 depressed unipolar, 12 euthymic bipolar, 10 euthymic unipolar patients, and 51 mentally healthy controls.

Depressed bipolar, euthymic bipolar, and depressed unipolar patients had significantly higher BIS scores than healthy controls, at 77.7, 75.0, and 74.5, respectively, versus 56.1.

Euthymic unipolar patients only scored higher than healthy controls on motor impulsivity, at 23.8 versus 18.6.

"We found no significant relationship between impulsivity and severity of mood symptoms," the team comments.

Peluso and co-workers conclude: "These findings reinforce the hypothesis that the relatively high level of impulsivity found in bipolar patients may be a stable component, which is not merely a manifestation of mood state."

The researchers call for future studies to address "whether the stable component of impulsivity is a consequence of repeated mood episodes or is present prior to mood disorder onset."

Knowing the answer to this question would help clinicians to better diagnose and treat bipolar disorder, they say, because higher interepisode impulsivity may contribute to poor compliance and, consequently, poor outcome.

Impulsivity is a stable characteristic of bipolar disorder

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