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25-11-2010 | Mental health | Article

Hyperthymic temperament reduces suicide ideation in bipolar patients


Free abstract

MedWire News: A hyperthymic temperament is associated with a reduced risk for suicide ideation in patients with bipolar disorder (BD), report researchers.

Individuals with a hyperthymic temperament are usually described as strong willed, self-assured, expansive, energetic, productive, and cheerful, and often exhibit other "positive" personality traits.

Writing in the Journal of Affective Disorders, G Vázquez (University of Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina) and team explain: "Despite of our increasing knowledge concerning the psychological, social, biochemical and even genetic factors associated with suicidal behaviour, we still know little about the manifestations of approaching suicide and its personality and temperamental precursors, which makes effective suicide prevention still a faraway target."

They add: "Since the majority of suicides are committed by affective disorder patients, it would be extremely important to understand the emergence of suicidal behaviour in this population."

To investigate whether hyperthymic temperament is associated with suicidal ideation among patients with affective disorder, the team studied 97 patients with unipolar depression and 286 with BD.

Of the patients with BD, 115 (28.0%) had the BDI subtype, 94 (22.9%) had BDII, 22 (5.4%) had BD not otherwise specified (NOS), 20 (4.9%) had BD NOSIII (switch by antidepressants), and 35 (8.5%) had BD NOSIV (hyperthymic temperament).

Suicidal ideation among the patients was assessed using responses to item 9 of the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI).

The researchers found no statistically significant difference in the prevalence of suicidal ideation between bipolar and unipolar patients, at 4.5% versus 9.1%.

However, patients with the BD NOSIV subtype were less likely to report suicidal ideation that other patients, with a mean BDI item 9 score of 0.28 versus 0.43 in BDI and BDII patients, 0.57 in those with BD NOS, 0.44 in those with BDIII, and 0.51 among unipolar patients.

However, among patients with BD, the reduced risk for suicide ideation in patients with the BD NOSIV subtype only reached statistical significance versus those with BD NOS.

Vázquez and team conclude: "The results of our study indicate that bipolar subjects with a hyperthymic temperament, as encompassed by the bipolar prototype IV, show less suicidal ideation compared to bipolar NOS subjects with no hyperthymic traits, while there was no other significant difference concerning suicidal ideation between different types of affective disorders."

They add: "Our results concerning an important association between hyperthymia and suicidal ideation are especially important, because suicidal ideation precedes suicidal acts, so it gives a possibility to interfere before concrete suicidal attempts are manifested."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Mark Cowen

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