Long-term implications of early onset in bipolar disorder: Data from the first 1000 participants in the Systematic Treatment Enhancement Program for Bipolar Disorder (STEP-BD)

Roy H. Perlis, Sachiko Miyahara, Lauren B. Marangell, Stephen R. Wisniewski, Michael Ostacher, Melissa P. DelBello, Charles L. Bowden, Gary S. Sachs, Andrew A. Nierenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

666 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background Early onset of mood symptoms in bipolar disorder has been associated with poor outcome in many studies; however, the factors that might contribute to poor outcome have not been adequately investigated. Methods The first consecutive 1000 adult bipolar patients enrolled in the National Institute of Mental Health's Systematic Treatment Enhancement Program for Bipolar Disorder were assessed at study entry to determine details of their age of onset of mood symptoms. Clinical course, comorbidity, and functional status and quality of life were compared for groups with very early (age < 13 years), early (age 13-18 years), and adult (age > 18 years) onset of mood symptoms. Results Of 983 subjects in whom age of onset could be determined, 272 (27.7%) experienced very early onset, and 370 (37.6%) experienced early onset. Earlier onset was associated with greater rates of comorbid anxiety disorders and substance abuse, more recurrences, shorter periods of euthymia, greater likelihood of suicide attempts and violence, and greater likelihood of being in a mood episode at study entry. Conclusions Very early or early onset of bipolar disorder might herald a more severe disease course in terms of chronicity and comorbidity. Whether early intervention might modify this risk merits further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)875-881
Number of pages7
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Volume55
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2004

Keywords

  • Age of onset
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Comorbidity
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry

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