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Many With Depression Have Periods of Hypomania

Last Updated: August 16, 2010.

A substantial number, nearly 40 percent, of individuals in the United States who experience major depression also have a history of subthreshold hypomania, according to research published online Aug. 16 in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

MONDAY, Aug. 16 (HealthDay News) -- A substantial number, nearly 40 percent, of individuals in the United States who experience major depression also have a history of subthreshold hypomania, according to research published online Aug. 16 in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Jules Angst, M.D., of the Zurich University Psychiatric Hospital in Switzerland, and colleagues analyzed survey responses from more than 5,000 U.S. households to determine the prevalence and correlates of major depressive disorder with subthreshold hypomania -- characterized by spells of increased energy, irritability or euphoria, and activity -- and pure major depressive disorder.

The researchers found that almost 40 percent of those with a history of major depression also had a history of subthreshold hypomania. Individuals with major depression and a history of hypomania tended to be younger at disorder onset and to experience more episodes of depression and more comorbidities than those with no hypomania history. However, they had lower clinical severity levels than individuals with bipolar II disorder. The authors conclude that the findings could have implications related to broadening diagnostic criteria.

"These findings demonstrate heterogeneity in major depressive disorder and support the validity of inclusion of subthreshold mania in the diagnostic classification. The broadening of criteria for bipolar disorder would have important implications for research and clinical practice," the authors write.

Two authors disclosed financial relationships with pharmaceutical and/or medical device companies.

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