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Original Articles

Impact of Bipolar Disorder on a U.S. Community Sample

Joseph R. Calabrese, MD; Robert M. A. Hirschfeld, MD; Michael Reed, PhD; Marilyn A. Davies, PhD; Mark A. Frye, MD; Paul E. Keck, Jr., MD; Lydia Lewis, BA; Susan L. McElroy, MD; James P. McNulty, ScB, AB; and Karen D. Wagner, MD

Published: April 15, 2003

Article Abstract

Background: Bipolar disorder is a chronic psychiatric illness characterized by depression and at least 1 manic or hypomanic episode during the lifetime of the illness. Bipolar symptoms have been associated with significant functional impairment. We conducted a study to determine the psychosocial impact of bipolar disorder in a U.S. community sample.

Method: 3059 subjects were selected from a large epidemiologic study of bipolar prevalence that used the Mood Disorder Questionnaire (MDQ) to screen for bipolar I and II disorder. Subjects were surveyed from April 24, 2001, to August 6, 2001, using the Sheehan Disability Scale and the Social Adjustment Scale-Self Report. Comorbid disease data were also collected.

Results: Of the 3059 subjects surveyed, 2450 (80%) returned completed surveys: 1167 (48%) subjects screened positive for bipolar disorder based on MDQ scores; 1283 (52%) screened negative. MDQ-positive subjects reported significantly (p < .0001) more difficulties with work-related performance, social/leisure activities, and social/family interactions compared with MDQ-negative subjects. Younger subjects, aged 18 to 34 years, reported significantly (p = .003) more symptom days than did older MDQ-positive subjects. MDQ-positive women reported more disruption in social and family life, while MDQ-positive men reported being jailed, arrested, and convicted for crimes. Anxiety (30% vs. 6%), panic attacks (18% vs. 4%), migraine (24% vs. 11%), asthma (17% vs. 10%), and allergies (42% vs. 29%) were significantly (p < .05) more common in MDQ-positive versus MDQ-negative subjects.

Conclusion: Bipolar disorder, as identified in a community sample using the Mood Disorder Questionnaire, was significantly associated with negative impact on the performance of work-related, leisure, and interpersonal activities.

Volume: 64

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