Does anxiety increase impulsivity in patients with bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder?

Marcella Bellani, John P. Hatch, Mark A. Nicoletti, Astrid E. Ertola, Giovana Zunta-Soares, Alan C. Swann, Paolo Brambilla, Jair C. Soares

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to examine whether anxiety increases impulsivity among patients with bipolar disorder (BPD) and major depressive disorder (MDD). Subjects comprised 205 BPD (mean age ± SD 36.6 ± 11.5 y; 29.3% males) and 105 with MDD (mean age ± SD 38 ± 13.1 y; 29.5% males) diagnosed using the DSM-IV-SCID. Impulsivity was assessed with the Barratt Impulsivity Scale and anxiety with the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale. Comorbid anxiety disorders were present in 58.9% of the BPD and 29.1% of MDD. BPD were significantly more impulsive than MDD (. p < 0.001), and both BPD and MDD subjects showed significantly higher impulsivity when anxiety was present either as a comorbidity (. p = 0.010) or as a symptom (. p = 0.011). Impulsivity rose more rapidly with increasing anxiety symptoms in MDD than in BPD. The presence of anxiety, either as a comorbid disorder or as current anxiety symptoms, is associated with higher impulsivity in subjects with either BPD or MDD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)616-621
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2012


  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Impulsivity
  • Major depressive disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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