Aggression among 216 patients with a first-psychotic episode of bipolar I disorder [2018]

Aggression by patients with bipolar I disorder (BD-I) is not uncommon. Identifying potential risk factors early in the illness-course should inform clinical management and reduce risk.

In a study sample of 216 initially hospitalized, first-psychotic episode subjects diagnosed with DSM-IV-TR BD-I, we identified recent (within 1 month before hospitalization) aggression by ratings on the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale-Expanded and review of detailed clinical research records. We compared subjects with versus without aggressive behavior for associations with selected demographic and clinical factors.

Aggression was identified in 23/216 subjects (10.6%). It was associated significantly with recent suicide attempt (OR = 4.86), alcohol abuse (OR = 3.63), learning disability (OR = 3.14), and initial manic episode (OR = 2.59), but not with age, sex, onset-type, personality disorder, time to recovery, or functional status.

Among first-major episode BD-I patients with psychotic features, recent serious aggression towards others was identified in 10.6%. The odds of aggression increased by 4.9-times in association with a recent suicide attempt, more than 3-times with alcohol-abuse or learning disability, and by 2.6-times if the episode polarity was manic. The findings encourage closer management of alcohol misuse, suicide risk, and manic symptoms, and early detection of learning problems in BD-I patients.

Hari-Mandir K. Khalsa, Ross J. Baldessarini, Mauricio Tohen and Paola Salvatore

International Journal of Bipolar Disorders, 2018, 6:18