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Psychother Psychosom. 2003 Nov-Dec;72(6):300-6.

Major depressive disorder with anger: a bipolar spectrum disorder?

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Outpatient Psychiatry Center, University of California, San Diego, Calif., USA.



Depression with anger may be more common in bipolar disorders. The aim of the study was to assess whether major depressive disorder (MDD) with anger could be included in the bipolar spectrum, by comparing it to MDD without anger and to bipolar II disorder.


Consecutive outpatients (281 bipolar II disorder and 202 MDD) presenting for major depressive episode (MDE) treatment were interviewed with the DSM-IV structured clinical interview. Clinical variables used to support the inclusion of MDD with anger in the bipolar spectrum were age of onset, many MDE recurrences, atypical features of depression, depressive mixed state (an MDE plus some concurrent hypomanic symptoms), and bipolar family history.


Frequency of MDE with anger was 50.5% [61.2% in bipolar II, and 35.6% in MDD (z = 5.5, p = 0.0000, 95% CI 16.8-43.3%)]. Logistic regression of MDE with anger (dependent variable) versus bipolar variables showed that MDE with anger was significantly associated with all bipolar variables, apart from recurrences. MDD with anger, compared with MDD without anger, had significantly lower age of onset, more marked depressive mixed state, a bipolar family history with more cases, but comparable atypical features and Global Assessment of Functioning scores. MDD with anger, compared with bipolar II disorder, had significantly higher age of onset, less atypical features, and a bipolar family history with less cases.


MDE with anger was common in outpatients (more in bipolar II disorder). MDD with anger may be midway between MDD without anger and bipolar II disorder, and might be included into the bipolar spectrum. However, MDD with anger does not appear to be associated with the often reported negative response to monotherapy with antidepressants.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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