Irritability is a commonly expressed symptom in individuals suffering from a variety of mental disorders, specifically Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Bipolar Disorder (BD) (Yuen et al., 2016). New research suggests that irritability in BD may be more related to an individual’s experience of anxiety than previous research suggested. According to the article “Current Irritability Robustly Related to Current and Prior Anxiety in Bipolar Disorder”, researchers at Stanford’s Bipolar Disorders Clinic assessed individuals diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder using the Systematic Treatment Enhancement Program for BD (STEP-BD) Affective Disorders Evaluation (Yuen et al., 2016). Of the nearly 500 patients who were administered the evaluation, over 60% endorsed baseline current irritability. The individuals with current irritability also had higher rates of current anxiety and history of an anxiety disorder. As research suggests, individuals with BD who experience current and prior anxiety also experience earlier BP onset, more unfavorable illness characteristics, and worsened treatment outcomes. This new research may help clinicians conceptualize the course of treatment and modify interventions for individuals with BP with irritability. Thus, by specifically targeting an individual’s irritability while also assessing further for the role of current and past anxiety in the individual’s life, treatment may be more beneficial. Exploring this important link between symptoms of BD may further elucidate the way that clinicians can intervene to assist individuals in achieving a more positive quality of life.
Author: Nora Brier, M.A.