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Suicidality and symptoms of anxiety, irritability, and agitation in patients experiencing manic episodes with depressive symptoms: a naturalistic study

Authors Eberhard J, Weiller E

Received 21 April 2016

Accepted for publication 10 June 2016

Published 31 August 2016 Volume 2016:12 Pages 2265—2271


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder

Jonas Eberhard,1 Emmanuelle Weiller2

1Department of Clinical Sciences, Lund University, Lund, Sweden; 2H. Lundbeck A/S, Copenhagen, Denmark

Purpose: Patients with a bipolar I disorder (BD-I) manic episode meeting the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5), criteria for “with mixed features” have a high incidence of suicide attempts and of anxiety, irritability, and agitation (AIA) symptoms. The aim of this analysis was to explore the relationship between suicidality and AIA symptoms in patients with BD-I experiencing mania with depressive symptoms, using data from a previous naturalistic study.
Patients and methods: Psychiatrists completed an online questionnaire about their adult patients who had a current BD-I manic episode. Questions covered the DSM-5 “with mixed features” specifier, the severity of AIA symptoms, the frequency and controllability of suicidal ideation, and the number of suicide attempts.
Results: Of 1,035 patients with BD-I mania who were included in the analyses, 348 (33.6%) met the criteria for the DSM-5 “with mixed features” specifier (three or more depressive symptoms). These patients were further stratified according to the severity of their AIA symptoms: “mild AIA” (zero or one AIA symptom above a severity threshold; 105 patients) or “severe AIA” (all three AIA symptoms above a severity threshold; 167 patients). A greater incidence of suicidal ideation was observed in the severe AIA group (71.9%) than in the mild AIA group (47.6%). Twice as many patients had easily controlled suicidal ideation than difficult-to-control suicidal ideation in both subgroups. The mean number of suicide attempts was higher in the severe AIA group than in the mild AIA group, during the current episode (0.84 vs 0.34 attempts, respectively; P<0.05) and over the patient’s lifetime (1.56 vs 1.04 attempts, respectively).
Conclusion: The high risk of suicide among BD-I mania patients with depressive symptoms is further increased when they experience severe AIA symptoms. Recognizing AIA symptoms in BD-I mania could provide a means of identifying patients with depressive symptoms, as well as those who may be suicidal, thereby allowing for appropriate, tailored treatment.

Keywords: bipolar I disorder, mania with depressive symptoms, suicide, mixed features, DSM-5

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