Insight in bipolar disorder: relationship to episode subtypes and symptom dimensions
Duke University, Durham, NC, USA
Background: The study of insight in bipolar disorder has received limited attention, despite its potential impact on treatment compliance and prognosis. In the current study we compare insight levels during different phases of bipolar disorder, and consider its relationship to symptoms dimensions and epidemiologic variables.
Methods: Insight ratings obtained from 156 bipolar subjects in any phase of bipolar disorder were compared. A regression analysis was also conducted to identify symptom dimensions predictive of insight levels.
Results: Greater impairments in insight were observed during pure manic episodes than during mixed or depressed episodes, or during euthymia. Depressive symptoms were associated with better insight. Improvements in insight with treatment were neither complete nor universal. Lack of insight was unrelated to age, years of illness, age of first psychiatric illness, or lifetime number of hospitalizations.
Conclusions: Although psychosis may be associated with impaired insight, other variables also impact on degree of impaired insight. Specifically, depressed mood appears to be associated with preservation of insight. That relationship may transcend strict syndromal diagnosis.
Keywords: insight, bipolar disorder, psychosis, depression
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