May 12, 2012

Anxiety may Lead to Bipolar

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Robert Carlson, M.D By:

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Bipolar disorder may be more severe for people with anxiety

(dailyRx News) Anxiety disorders are common in people with bipolar disorder, and having an anxiety disorder with bipolar may mean that managing bipolar symptoms is more difficult.

A recent study found that more than half the people with bipolar disorder had anxiety issues and that having both was linked to more severe bipolar symptoms.

Detecting and treating anxiety symptoms may be important for improving bipolar symptoms.

"Discuss anxiety symptoms with your psychiatrist"

A study led by Regina Sala, MD, at the New York State Psychiatric Institute of Columbia University, looked at the rates of anxiety disorders and how that related to symptoms and treatment for people with bipolar disorder.

They looked at the symptoms and treatments of 1600 adults with bipolar disorder who were part of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC).

They found that 60 percent of people with bipolar disorder had an anxiety disorder at least once in their lifetime, and 40 percent had two or more anxiety disorders in their lifetime.

Furthermore, the people with bipolar and an anxiety disorder were more likely to have severe symptoms of bipolar, such as suicidal behavior, more manic episodes and more depressive episodes. 

These people were also about two times more likely to visit emergency rooms for their bipolar-related depression.

Compared to people with bipolar disorder who did not ever have anxiety, people with bipolar disorder and anxiety were also more likely to have substance abuse problems and more problems in social functioning, like problems at work.

The authors conclude that early detection of anxiety disorders in people with bipolar disorder is needed. Treating the anxiety disorder may help to lessen at least some of the burden of bipolar disease.

NESARC is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and the US Department of Health and Human Services. It is a long-term study looking at alcohol use and related issues, including psychiatric conditions and treatment usage.

The study was published online ahead of print in April 23, 2012 in the Journal of Psychiatric Research. The study was supported by grants from the Alicia Koplowitz Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

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Reviewed by: 
Robert Carlson, M.D
Review Date: 
May 11, 2012

Last Updated:
July 6, 2012