Objective: Given the adverse impact of anxiety on treatment outcome in unipolar depression and the paucity of data on the role of anxiety in bipolar disorder, the authors sought to determine the effect of anxiety on the acute treatment response of patients with bipolar I disorder.
Method: The authors examined the correlates of response to the acute treatment of 124 consecutively treated patients with bipolar I disorder. Measures of anxiety included history of panic attacks and a composite variable reflecting current or past anxiety symptoms.
Results: History of panic attacks proved to be a significant correlate of nonremission. Anxiety, as assessed with the composite variable, was associated with longer time to remission, as was the treatment of depressive versus manic symptoms and mixed versus manic symptoms. Patients with anxiety as assessed with the composite variable and patients with a history of panic attacks reported more severe medication side effects. They also required a greater number of medications, either sequentially or in combination, in order to achieve remission.
Conclusions: The findings suggest that anxiety is a clinically meaningful correlate of poor outcome in the acute treatment of bipolar I disorder.