Adults with bipolar disorder and their siblings were more likely to have cyclothymic and hyperthymic temperaments and an elevated number of life events compared with control participants, according to study results published in the Journal of Mental Health.

The study included 60 adults (age ≥18) with bipolar I or bipolar II disorder, 60 patient siblings (1 brother or 1 sister of each patient), and 60 controls recruited from Farhat Hached University Hospital in Sousse, Tunisia. All 3 groups were matched for age and sex and completed an Arabic Tunisian version of Paykel’s Interview to assess life events within the last 6 months and an Arabic version of the Temperament Evaluation of Memphis, Pisa, Paris and San Diego – Auto (TEMPS-A) questionnaire to assess depressive, cyclothymic, hyperthymic, irritable, and anxious temperaments.

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Compared with controls, patients who have bipolar disorder and their siblings had higher global scores in life events and higher scores in cyclothymic and hyperthymic temperaments. There were no significant differences between patients who are bipolar and their siblings in global life events scores or between the 3 groups in irritable or anxious temperament scores. In patients with bipolar disorder and their siblings, investigators found a strong relationship between anxious/cyclothymic temperaments and high numbers of recent life events. However, the number of recent life events in controls was not related to any of the temperaments assessed.

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Investigators noted the small sample size and the placement of patients with bipolar I and bipolar II disorder in the same group. Future studies could include more patients and separate analyses of patients with bipolar I and bipolar II disorder.

“Overall, our findings provide further evidence of the implication of affective temperaments in the pathogenesis of bipolar disorder,” investigators concluded.


Saguem BN, Mtiraoui A, Nakhli J, et al. Affective temperaments and their relationships with life events in bipolar patients and siblings: a controlled study [published online May 8, 2019]. J Ment Health. doi:10.1080/09638237.2019.1608924