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J Affect Disord. 2013 Feb 15;145(1):54-61. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2012.07.012. Epub 2012 Aug 23.

Is coping well a matter of personality? A study of euthymic unipolar and bipolar patients.

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CADE Clinic, Department of Psychiatry, Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, Australia.



Euthymic bipolar disorder (BD) patients often demonstrate better clinical outcomes than remitted patients with unipolar illness (UP). Reasons for this are uncertain, however, personality and coping styles are each likely to play a key role. This study examined differences between euthymic BD and UP patients with respect to the inter-relationship between personality, coping style, and clinical outcomes.


A total of 96 UP and 77 BD euthymic patients were recruited through the CADE Clinic, Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney, and assessed by a team comprising Psychiatrists and Psychologists. They underwent a structured clinical diagnostic interview, and completed self-report measures of depression, anxiety, stress, personality, coping, social adjustment, self-esteem, dysfunctional attitudes, and fear of negative evaluation.


Compared to UP, BD patients reported significantly higher scores on levels of extraversion, adaptive coping, self-esteem, and lower scores on trait anxiety and fear of negative evaluation. Extraversion correlated positively with self-esteem, adaptive coping styles, and negatively with trait anxiety and fear of negative evaluation. Trait anxiety and fear of negative evaluation correlated positively with eachother, and both correlated negatively with self-esteem and adaptive coping styles. Finally, self-esteem correlated positively with adaptive coping styles.


The results cannot be generalised to depressive states of BD and UP, as differences in the course of illness and types of depression are likely to impact on coping and clinical outcomes, particularly for BD.


During remission, functioning is perhaps better 'preserved' in BD than in UP, possibly because of the protective role of extraversion which drives healthier coping styles.

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