By On September 11th, 2014

Negative Life Events May Raise The Risk Of Depressive Episodes In People With Bipolar I Disorder

Sad WomanAccording to a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, negative life events may have the potential to trigger depressive episodes in patients diagnosed with bipolar I disorder. However, the report also breaks from previous research by finding that life events did not trigger manic episodes.

Benedikt Amann and colleagues from the FIDMAG Research Foundation Germanes Hospitaláries, Barcelona, Spain, saw that negative life events such as loss of employment, relationship, or close friend or family member were fairly common among the 222 patients participating in the study. Over half (62.2%) of the participants reported at least one event in the 6 months before the index mood episode, and 49.5% reported having at least one in the 6 months after the episode.

“This may imply that suffering from current life events increases the risk of life events in the future, in the sense that past life events ‘cause’ new life events”, wrote the researchers. “Alternatively, it is also possible that underlying factors, such as co-morbid personality disorders, continuously increase the risk of life events.”

The researchers also found the number of life events before the index event had little to no effect on the chance of patients relapsing. However, each additional life event after the episode increased the risk of depressive relapse by as much as a third.

The researchers use these findings to suggest that life events have an acute effect on the risk of relapse, and the events themselves may directly contribute to patients relapsing.

The team also noticed the association was limited to the 126 participants diagnosed with bipolar I disorder, and not those diagnosed with depressive II disorder.

“[O]ur findings underline the importance of detection but especially of treatment of life events in bipolar disorder”, says the team.

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