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Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2003 Jun;37(3):355-61.

Awareness of illness in patients with bipolar I disorder with or without comorbid anxiety disorders.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Pharmacology, Neurobiology and Bio-technology, University of Pisa, via Roma 67, 56100 Pisa, Italy.



The present study examined whether specific types of comorbid anxiety disorders, namely panic disorder (PD), social phobia (SP) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are differentially associated with course variables and insight into bipolar illness.


The sample consisted of 151 consecutively hospitalized patients with bipolar I disorder. They were assessed in the week prior to discharge using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R (SCID-P), the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS), the Global Assessment of Functioning Scale (GAF) and the Hopkins Symptom Checklist (HSCL-90). Level of insight was assessed with the Scale to assess Unawareness of Mental Disorders (SUMD).


Of the 151 bipolar subjects, 92 had no PD, SP and OCD comorbidity, 35 had PD and 24 had SP and/or OCD. The three groups differed significantly on the current awareness of illness and treatment response scores and the retrospective awareness of illness and treatment response scores. Post-hoc analyses revealed that, compared with bipolar patients without PD/SD/OCD and those with comorbid PD, patients with comorbid SP and/or OCD had better insight on current awareness of illness, current awareness of treatment response, retrospective awareness of illness and retrospective awareness of treatment response. The regression analysis showed that the presence of no panic type anxiety comorbidity was a predictor of good insight.


These data indicate the value of identifying comorbid anxiety disorders in patients with bipolar illness. The results could be interpreted as evidence of discrete disorders within the bipolar spectrum, one that is characterized by, among other things, SP and/or OCD with good insight, another characterized by PD with poor insight.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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