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Responses to Depressed Mood and Suicide Attempt in Young Adults With a History of Childhood-Onset Mood Disorder. [CME]

J Clin Psychiatry 2009;70(5):644-652
10.4088/JCP.07m03895

Objective: Although individuals' responses to their depressed mood are hypothesized to play an important role in the development and maintenance of depression, how these responses might impact the likelihood of suicidal behavior in mood disorders remains largely unexplored. The goal of the current study was to examine whether maladaptive responses to depressed mood are associated with suicide attempts in adults with a history of childhood-onset mood disorder (COMD).

Method: Participants included 223 young adult probands with COMD meeting DSM-III or DSM-IV criteria for major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder and 112 controls without a history of psychiatric disorders. All participants were recruited between 1996 and 2004. Probands were followed for 6 to 99 months (median=32 months). The Responses Styles Questionnaire was used to assess 2 adaptive (distraction and problem solving) and 2 maladaptive (dangerous activity and rumination) ways of coping with depressed mood.

Results: Compared to controls, COMD probands scored significantly higher on maladaptive response styles and lower on adaptive styles. Compared to their COMD peers, probands with a history of suicide attempt were less likely to report using distracting activities to manage their depressed mood. However, COMD probands who engaged in dangerous activities in response to depressed mood were more likely to attempt suicide during the follow-up period (hazard ratio=1.8, 95% CI=1.2 to 2.8).

Conclusion: One of the pathways to suicide attempt in mood disorders may involve maladaptive responses to depressed mood. The assessment of how depressed individuals manage their dysphoric moods, therefore, should be considered an important aspect of treatment and prevention of suicidal behavior.