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Deficits in emotional intelligence (EI) were detected in patients with bipolar disorder (BD), but little is known about whether these deficits are already present in patients after presenting a first episode mania (FEM). We sought (i) to compare EI in patients after a FEM, chronic BD and healthy controls (HC); (ii) to examine the effect exerted on EI by socio-demographic, clinical and neurocognitive variables in FEM patients.
The Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EIQ) was calculated with the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT). Performance on MSCEIT was compared among the three groups using generalized linear models. In patients after a FEM, the influence of socio-demographic, clinical and neurocognitive variables on the EIQ was examined using a linear regression model.
In total, 184 subjects were included (FEM n = 48, euthymic chronic BD type I n = 75, HC n = 61). BD patients performed significantly worse than HC on the EIQ [mean difference (MD) = 10.09, standard error (s.e.) = 3.14, p = 0.004] and on the understanding emotions branch (MD = 7.46, s.e. = 2.53, p = 0.010). FEM patients did not differ from HC and BD on other measures of MSCEIT. In patients after a FEM, EIQ was positively associated with female sex (β = −0.293, p = 0.034) and verbal memory performance (β = 0.374, p = 0.008). FEM patients performed worse than HC but better than BD on few neurocognitive domains.
Patients after a FEM showed preserved EI, while patients in later stages of BD presented lower EIQ, suggesting that impairments in EI might result from the burden of disease and neurocognitive decline, associated with the chronicity of the illness.
Bipolar disorder (BD) represents one of the most therapeutically complex psychiatric disorders. The development of a feasible comprehensive psychological approach to complement pharmacotherapy to improve its clinical management is required. The main objective of the present randomized controlled trial (RCT) was to test the efficacy of a novel adjunctive treatment entitled integrative approach in patients with BD, including: psychoeducation, mindfulness training, and functional remediation.
This is a parallel two-armed, rater-blind RCT of an integrative approach plus treatment as usual (TAU), v. TAU alone. Participants were recruited at the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona and randomized to one of the two conditions. They were assessed at baseline and after finishing the intervention. The main outcome variable included changes in psychosocial functioning assessed through the Functioning Assessment Short Test (FAST).
After finishing the treatment, the repeated-measures analyses revealed a significant group × time interaction in favor of the patients who received the integrative approach (n = 28) compared to the TAU group (n = 37) (Pillai's trace = 0.10; F(1,57) = 6.9; p = 0.01), improving the functional outcome. Significant effects were also found in two out of the six domains of the FAST, including the cognitive domain (Pillai's trace = 0.25; F(1,57) = 19.1; p < 0.001) and leisure time (Pillai's trace = 0.11; F(1,57) = 7.15; p = 0.01). Regarding the secondary outcomes, a significant group × time interaction in Hamilton Depression Rating Scale changes was detected (Pillai's trace = 0.08; F(1,62) = 5.6; p = 0.02).
This preliminary study suggests that the integrative approach represents a promising cost-effective therapy to improve psychosocial functioning and residual depressive symptoms in patients suffering from BD.
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