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Psychosis in Mania: Specificity of Its Role in Severity and Treatment Response

J Clin Psychiatry 2004;65:825-829

Background: Psychosis is a prominent characteristic of manic episodes. We investigated relationships between the presence of psychotic features, the severity of the manic syndrome, and syndrome severity's response to treatment.

Method: 179 subjects meeting Research Diagnostic Criteria for a manic episode of bipolar I disorder were hospitalized for acute manic episodes and treated in a randomized trial of lithium, divalproex sodium, or placebo. Factor and cluster analyses were carried out using the clinician-rated Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia, Change version (SADS-C) and the nurse-rated Affective Disorder Rating Scale (ADRS).

Results: Subjects with psychotic features had significantly (p < .005) greater overall impairment (lower Global Assessment Scale [GAS] scores) but did not differ in severity of mania scores compared with those without psychotic features. Psychosis factor scores correlated significantly (p < .000001) with GAS scores but not with mania scores. Baseline psychosis factor scores did not correlate with subsequent treatment-associated change in mania scores, but change in mania scores during treatment correlated significantly (p < .000001) with change in the psychosis factor. Changes in psychosis factor scores correlated significantly with changes in mania rating scale scores regardless of treatment.

Conclusions: Psychotic features as a component of manic episodes contribute substantially to overall impairment. Treatments that successfully treat mania also reduce psychosis scores.