Many Bipolar Patients Likely to Develop Anxiety Disorders

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Nearly half of people who suffer from bipolar disorder will also develop a comorbid anxiety disorder in their lifetime.

Barbara Pavlova, PhD, an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at the Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis that included a total of 40 studies. There were 29 clinical studies, seven community samples and four mixed samples in the meta-analysis.

The lifetime prevalence of anxiety disorders in bipolar patients was 45% across all of the studies, the researchers reported in the The Lancet Psychiatry. However, they noted that in the studies, the rates of comorbid anxiety in bipolar patients ranged from 8% to 88%.

The meta-analysis found that the two most common anxiety disorders seen in bipolar patients with anxiety were generalized anxiety disorder (20%) and social phobia (20%). Not far behind were panic disorder (19%) and post-traumatic stress disorder (17%).

And in data from five of the studies, which included 1378 people with bipolar disorder and 56,812 without, the rates of comorbid anxiety were three times higher in those who were bipolar.

Childhood trauma, stress, low self-esteem and common genetic susceptibility may explain why people who are bipolar are more susceptible to anxiety disorders, the researchers said, adding that clinicians should routinely examine bipolar patients for signs of anxiety.

Many Bipolar Patients Likely to Develop Anxiety Disorders
Meta-analysis finds almost half of patients with bipolar disorder will develop an anxiety disorder in their lifetime.

Almost half of patients with bipolar disorder will have comorbid anxiety disorder in their lifetime, show the findings of a systematic review and meta-analysis.

The researchers carried out a literature search and identified 40 eligible studies — 29 clinical studies, seven community samples and four mixed samples — including 14,914 individuals aged an average of 43.2 years.

Across all the studies, the lifetime prevalence of comorbid anxiety disorders among patients with bipolar disorder was 45%, although the researchers note that it ranged from 8% to 88% and there was significant heterogeneity between studies, most of which was unexplained.

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