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Am J Psychiatry. 1993 May;150(5):720-7.

The enduring psychosocial consequences of mania and depression.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Iowa College of Medicine, Iowa City 52242.



The authors sought to determine the scope, severity, and persistence of psychosocial impairment arising from bipolar and unipolar affective disorder.


Patients with bipolar (N = 148) or unipolar (N = 240) major affective disorder were assessed as they sought treatment and again after a 5-year follow-up. Concurrently, parents, siblings, and adult children underwent similar assessments and were followed for 6 years. To quantify the impact of affective disorder, probands were individually matched to relatives who had no lifetime history of affective disorder. Sixty-nine relatives who were depressed at intake constituted a separate, nonclinical study group and were also matched to relatives who were well.


Both unipolar and bipolar patients began follow-up with deficits in annual income. Relative to comparison subjects, affective disorder groups were significantly more likely to report declines in job status and income at the end of follow-up and significantly less likely to report improvements. Similarly, both bipolar and unipolar patients showed significant deficits in nearly all other areas of psychosocial functioning measured at follow-up. Except for relationships with spouses, deficits did not differ significantly by polarity. Surprisingly, probands with recovery sustained throughout the final 2 years of follow-up also showed severe and widespread impairment. Relatives with major depression exhibited substantial deficits on follow-up, but job status and income were not significantly affected.


The psychosocial impairment associated with mania and major depression extends to essentially all areas of functioning and persists for years, even among individuals who experience sustained resolution of clinical symptoms.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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