The aim of this study was to evaluate the natural course of mood disorders in 157 patients admitted consecutively to the Dipartimento di Psichiatria, Neurobiologia, Farmacologia e Biotecnologie at Pisa University for an affective or schizoaffective episode and followed for 3 years.
During the follow-up, three patients committed suicide and three died of natural causes. The three suicide patients were diagnosed as suffering from a depressive episode deriving from Bipolar I disorder. Of the remaining 104 patients, 42% had no relapses, 35% had up to three relapses, and 23% had more than three relapses; there were no significant differences between these three groups.
In conclusion, recent treatments seem able to reduce the length and number of relapses in patients with mood disorders. The hyperthymic temperament seems to be a characteristic of compliant patients and a predictor of a good response to treatment. The mortality rate connected with somatic or accidental causes appears to be similar to that of the general population, while the rate of suicide is higher.