Objective: To identify characteristics of patients diagnosed with unipolar depression who may have undiagnosed bipolar disorder.
Methods: Patients diagnosed with unipolar depression by a healthcare provider were identified through the Consumer Health Sciences National Health and Wellness Survey. Manic symptoms, comorbid conditions, psychiatric symptomatology, use of healthcare resources, and patient demographics were identified through Internet-based questionnaires. A self-report adapted version of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition-Text Revision criteria identified symptoms consistent with a manic episode. Psychological well-being was measured by the Psychological General Well-Being Index.
Results: Of the 1,602 respondents who met inclusion criteria, 219 (14% or ~1 out of 7) reported symptoms consistent with a manic episode and were considered at risk for undiagnosed bipolar disorder. These respondents were younger and had a lower socioeconomic status. At-risk patients rated their depression as more severe and experienced greater impairment of psychological well-being. More than 70% of those at risk reported speaking with a healthcare provider about their mania symptoms. Comorbid mental disorders, especially anxiety-related conditions, were common in these patients.
Conclusion: These findings underscore the importance of evaluating unipolar patients for bipolar disorder and may help clinicians identify symptoms and comorbidities associated with patients with unipolar depression at risk for undiagnosed bipolar disorder.