Towards a reconceptualization of mixed states, based on an emotional-reactivity dimensional model

J Affect Disord. 2007 Aug;101(1-3):35-41. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2006.10.027. Epub 2007 Jan 22.


Background: DSM-IV criteria for mixed states may be too restrictive and may actually exclude patients who do not meet the full criteria for a manic and depressive state. Using this DSM-IV definition, many patients who are considered depressed may have mixed features, which can explain why some bipolar depressive states can worsen with antidepressants and can be improved by mood stabilizers or atypical antipsychotics. A dimensional approach not exclusively focused on the tonality of affect would help to define a broader entity of mixed states. The aim of this study was to apply a dimensional model to bipolar episodes and to assess the overlap between the groups defined using this model and using categorical diagnosis.

Method: We assessed 139 DSM-IV acutely ill bipolar I patients with MAThyS (Multidimensional Assessment of Thymic States by Henry et al. in press), a scale that assesses five quantitative dimensions exploring excitatory and inhibition processes, and that is not focused on tonality of mood but on emotional reactivity. We studied the relationship between clusters defined by statistical analyses and DSM-IV bipolar mood states.

Results: This study showed the existence of three clusters. Cluster 1 was characterized by an inhibition in all dimensions and corresponded to the depressive cluster (more than 90% of patients met the criteria for DSM-IV Major Depressive Episode (MDE)). Cluster 2 showed a general excitation and was mainly DSM-IV manic or hypomanic patients (90%). Cluster 3 (Mixed) was more complex and the diagnosis included MDE (56%) in most of the cases associated with manic or hypomanic symptoms, mixed states (18%) defined by DSM-IV criteria, and manic or hypomanic states (25%). Emotional reactivity was relevant to distinguish Cluster 1 (Depressive), exhibiting emotional hypo-reactivity, from Cluster 2 (Manic) and 3 (Mixed), characterized by emotional hyper-reactivity. Sadness was reported equally in all three clusters.

Conclusion: A dimensional approach using the concept of emotional reactivity seems appropriate to define a broad mixed state entity in patients who would be diagnosed with MDE according to DSM-IV. Further studies are needed to test the relevance of this model in therapeutic strategies.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Aged
  • Arousal
  • Bipolar Disorder / classification
  • Bipolar Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Bipolar Disorder / psychology
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Depressive Disorder / classification
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / classification
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Assessment / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychometrics / statistics & numerical data
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Social Environment