Background. Published studies of emotional processing and cognitive style in bipolar disorders tend to have small sample sizes or use non-clinical samples. Larger clinically representative studies are needed.
Method. Self-esteem, dysfunctional attitudes and personality style were compared in unipolar (N=16) and bipolar disorder (N=77); and then investigated in the different phases of bipolar disorder (remitted=26; depressed=38; hypomanic=13). One-year outcome was assessed in 36 bipolar subjects.
Results. Unipolar subjects and bipolar subjects differed significantly in their mean levels of negative self-esteem (unipolar=15·5; bipolar=12·7; P<0·05). Bipolar subjects with hypomania reported mean levels of dysfunctional beliefs that were higher than individuals in remission but lower than depressed subjects (remitted=136·7; depressed=153·8; hypomanic=144·8; P<0·05). Hypomanic subjects recorded the highest levels of negative as well as positive self-esteem. In the exploratory analysis of outcome, negative self-esteem (Exp [B] 1·91; 95% CI 1·11 to 3·32; P<0·05) was the most robust predictor of relapse.
Conclusions. There are similarities in the cognitive style of individuals with unipolar as compared to bipolar disorders. Cognitive style in hypomania represents a phase between remission and depression rather than the polar opposite of depression. The implications of these findings are considered for psychological and neural network models.
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