The impact of comorbid posttraumatic stress disorder on bipolar disorder patients
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BACKGROUND: Available data regarding posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in bipolar disorder (BD) are scarce and usually from a limited sample size. The present report was carried out using the Brazilian Research Consortium for Bipolar Disorders and aimed to examine whether patients with BD and comorbid PTSD are at an increased risk for worse clinical outcomes. METHODS: A consecutive sample of bipolar I outpatients from two teaching hospitals in Brazil was recruited. Patients were assessed using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV, Young Mania Rating Scale, 17-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, and quality of life instrument WHOQOL-BREF. Participants were divided into three groups: a. bipolar patients with PTSD, b. bipolar patients exposed to trauma without PTSD, and c. bipolar patients with no trauma exposure. RESULTS: Of the 405 patients who consented to participate, 87.7% completed the survey. All three groups were similar in terms of demographic parameters. The group with comorbid PTSD reported worse quality of life, more rapid cycling, higher rates of suicide attempts, and a lower likelihood of staying recovered. LIMITATIONS: The cross-sectional design excludes the opportunity to examine causal relationships among trauma, PTSD, and BD. CONCLUSIONS: The findings indicate that PTSD causes bipolar patients to have a worse outcome, as assessed by their lower likelihood to recover, elevated proportion of rapid cycling periods, increased risk of suicide attempts, and worse quality of life.
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