HealthDay News — Outpatients with bipolar disorder often have familial psychiatric history, which is associated with disease severity and sociodemographic measures, according to a study published in the Aug. 1 issue of the Journal of Affective Disorders.

Ole Köhler-Forsberg, from the Aarhus University Hospital Psychiatry in Denmark, and colleagues examined the impact of family history of mental disorders in first-degree relatives on the severity and course of bipolar disorder in two comparative effectiveness studies among bipolar disorder outpatients involving four randomized treatment arms.

The researchers found that 85.1 percent of 757 patients reported at least one first-degree relative with a severe mental disorder (mean, 2.8). The most frequently reported disorders were depression, alcohol abuse, and bipolar disorder (67.1, 51.0, and 47.0 percent, respectively). There was an association for familial psychiatric history with several measures of disease severity (hospitalizations, suicide attempts, and earlier onset) and sociodemographic markers (lower education and household income); no association was seen for cardiometabolic markers (e.g., cholesterol or waist circumference) or cardiovascular risk scores (e.g., the Framingham risk score). More psychopharmacological treatment tended to be needed by patients with familial psychiatric history; however, the investigators observed no difference in treatment response compared with patients without a familial psychiatric history.

“These findings indicate that a familial psychiatric history places a greater burden on patients with bipolar disorder, but that a focused and intense treatment approach can result in similar response rates,” the authors write.


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Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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