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30-03-2011 | Mental health | Article

Eating disorders common in women with bipolar I disorder


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MedWire News: Eating disorders (EDs) are common in women with bipolar I disorder (BD I) and are associated with increased severity of the mood condition, say researchers.

"There is growing recognition of the clinical significance of ED comorbidity in patients with BD," explain Elisa Brietzke (University of São Paulo, Brazil) and team.

However, they add that "although available data suggest that ED behaviors, especially binge eating, may be common in people with BD, reliable data are still scarce."

To address this, the researchers studied 137 women with BD I who were aged between 18 and 65 years.

All of the women were assessed for eating disorders using the Structured Clinical Interview for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Axis I Disorders. They also underwent comprehensive clinical assessments and their demographic characteristics were recorded.

In total, 20 (14.6%) women, aged an average of 35.6 years, met criteria for an ED and the remaining 117 (85.4%) women, aged an average of 39.3 years, did not, the researchers note in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

Women with an ED had an earlier average age at BD onset than those without, at 17.5 versus 28.0 years, and had experienced more mood episodes, at a median of 14.5 versus 8.0 episodes.

Women in the ED group were also more likely to have a history of alcohol abuse/dependence (35.0% versus 9.7%), drug abuse/dependence (35.0% versus 11.5%), and a comorbid anxiety disorder (70.0% versus 46.6%) than those without an ED.

And a history of suicide attempts was more common among women with an ED than among those without, at 71.4% versus 38.7%.

"The results of this study confirm high rates of ED… among women with BD," and "support the notion that comorbidity with ED is a correlate of the severity of BD," conclude Brietzke et al.

They add: "Screening for ED among individuals with BD is warranted, and interventions for this group of patients should be designed to minimize distress and suicide risk and to improve treatment outcomes."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Mark Cowen

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