Affective lability — the tendency to experience rapid, unpredictable, and excessive mood changes — is associated with multiple psychiatric disorders. Researchers are exploring affective lability as a therapeutic target for bipolar disorder, but limited evidence exists on its prevalence and impact among people with schizophrenia and other psychosis spectrum disorders. Their findings were published in the International Journal of Bipolar Disorders.

Building on a separate study on affective lability in people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, the researchers explored the feature as a possible target for psychiatric treatment. They also looked at how affective lability varies between disorders.

Working with the same sample as their previous study, as well as additional participants, the researchers measured affective lability using The Affective Lability Scale Short Form (ALS-SF). The breakdown includes: schizophrenia (SZ, n=76), bipolar I disorder (BD-I, n=105), bipolar II disorder (BD-II, n=68) and a mixed psychosis-affective group (MP, n=48).


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The researchers found that the bipolar II group had higher total affective lability and depression-elation scores compared with schizophrenia and bipolar I. Affective lability was not statistically different from the other groups. The results suggest when it comes to affective lability symptoms, bipolar I more closely resembles schizophrenia than bipolar II, the researchers state. The presence of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and anxiety disorders may also increase the tendency for affective lability.

Because of the cross sectional nature of the study, the researchers could not make causal considerations. They also had limited data on comorbidities.

The study provides more detailed information about affective lability and the fluctuations between depressive and other affective states.

“The findings also show that there is an even dispersion of affective lability scores within each diagnostic group, and that the dispersion also appears to be largely equivalent across groups,” the researchers conclude. The findings may have implications in both research and clinical practice.

Reference

Høegh MC, Melle I, Aminoff SR, et al. Characterization of affective lability across subgroups of psychosis spectrum disorders. Int J Bipolar Disord. Published November 4, 2021. doi:10.1186/s40345-021-00238-0