New Study Confirms Differences Between Unipolar and Bipolar Depression

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Findings published in European Psychiatry confirm several factors including higher trait impulsivity, aggression, and hostility can distinguish between bipolar depression and unipolar depression in patients.

Several previous studies have found similar results to the latest study, but the research conducted by Maria Oquendo and colleagues from New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University may be the most significant to date.

The findings also show bipolar patients had more personal and familial evidence of mania, were younger at onset of depression, and had more previous affective episodes than those with unipolar depression.

“These findings highlight the importance of comprehensive history taking and of course of illness-related data in order to ascertain the diagnosis”, wrote Oquendo.

The study included 151 bipolar I disorder patients with an average age of 17.5 at onset of the first depressive episode, and 79 participants with bipolar II disorder and an average age of onset at 19.9 years. These findings were then compared to 455 patients with unipolar depression and an average age of onset at 25 years.

At the time the study began, the three participant groups were of similar age, but the bipolar depression patients reported a higher number of previous depressive and affective episodes than matched unipolar depression patients, and typically had more often been treated with antidepressants, antipsychotics, or mood stabilizers from an early age.

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