People who suffer from an anxiety disorder in addition to bipolar disorder are more likely to have severe symptoms of bipolar, such as suicidal behavior, more manic episodes, and more depressive episodes, according to new research led by Regina Sala, M.D. at the New York State Psychiatric Institute of Columbia University.
Individuals with both disorders were also twice as likely to be admitted into an emergency room for their bipolar-related depression.
According to the study, about 60 percent of people with bipolar disorder have experienced an anxiety disorder at least once in their lifetime, and 40 percent have had two or more anxiety disorders in their lifetime.
Researchers looked at the symptoms and treatments of 1600 adults with bipolar disorder who were part of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC).
Compared to individuals with bipolar disorder who never had anxiety, people with both disorders were also more likely to have substance abuse problems and social problems, such as problems at work.
The authors believe that that early detection of anxiety disorders in people with bipolar disorder is necessary. Treating the anxiety disorder may help ease at least part of the burden of bipolar disorder.
The study is published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research and was supported by grants from the Alicia Koplowitz Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.