Background: Abnormalities of cognitive style in bipolar disorder are of both clinical and theoretical importance.
Aims: To compare cognitive style in people with affective disorders and in healthy controls.
Method: Self-rated questionnaires were administered to 118 individuals with bipolar I disorder, 265 with unipolar major recurrent depression and 268 healthy controls. Those with affective disorder were also interviewed using the Schedules for Clinical Assessment in Neuropsychiatry and case notes were reviewed.
Results: Those with bipolar disorder and those with unipolar depression demonstrated different patterns of cognitive style from controls; negative self-esteem best discriminated between those with affective disorders and controls; measures of cognitive style were substantially affected by current levels of depressive symptomatology; patterns of cognitive style were similar in bipolar and unipolar disorder when current mental state was taken into account.
Conclusions: Those with affective disorder significantly differed from controls on measures of cognitive style but there were no differences between unipolar and bipolar disorders when current mental state was taken into account.