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27-01-2011 | Mental health | Article

Hypomania common in young adults


Free abstract

MedWire News: Hypomania affects around one-fifth of young adults, with "bright-side" more common than "dark-side" hypomania, results from a study of students suggest.

Writing in the Journal of Affective Disorders, Serge Brand and colleagues from the University of Basel in Switzerland explain: "There is a growing interest in research into hypomanic states because there is a reason to suspect that hypomanic and bipolar disorders may be underdiagnosed.

"In fact, the emerging data from several epidemiologic and clinical studies suggest that bipolar disorders, including hypomania, may in fact be as common as unipolar disorders."

To investigate hypomania rates among the young adults, the researchers studied 862 students (639 women and 223 men) who were aged an average of 24.7 years.

All of the participants completed the Hypomania Check List-32 (HCL-32), the Von Zerssen's Depression Scale, and variety of other validated questionnaires designed to assess factors such as stress coping ability, quality of life, self-efficacy, physical activity levels, and sleep quality.

Overall, 169 (19.6%) participants met criteria for being in a hypomanic state at the time of assessment, with a HCL-32 score greater than 14. Of these, 57.6% were classified as having "bright-side" (active/elated) hypomania and 42.4% as having "dark-side" (irritable/risk-taking) hypomania.

Participants with dark-side hypomania had significantly higher levels of depressive symptoms, sleep disturbances, stress, negative coping strategies, and lower self-efficacy than participants with bright-side hypomania and those without hypomania.

In contrast, patients with bright-side hypomania had lower stress levels, higher levels of curiosity and exploration, higher levels of physical activity, and greater satisfaction with life than participants with dark-side hypomania and those without hypomania.

Brand and colleagues conclude: "The key findings of the present study are that, in a non-clinical sample of young adults, about 19% were in a self-reported current state of hypomania, and that among these, a considerable proportion (57.6%) were in a so-called active/elated state of hypomania."

They add that "the prevalence rate of 19% was higher than expected."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Mark Cowen

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