Introduction: A number of studies have reported mood-congruent biases in processing facial expressions of emotion in depression and mania. Most of them have failed to establish that mood reliably affects relevant more than irrelevant expressions, or that the effect is specifically mood-related rather than due to resource or task difficulty artefacts. The aim was to examine, using appropriate statistical methods, whether depressed mood in bipolar patients decreases and manic mood increases sensitivity to facial expressions of happiness and vice versa for facial expressions of negative emotion.
Methods: Sensitivity to facial expression of six basic emotions in bipolar patients when depressed and when manic was compared to closely matched controls.
Results: Mood-related biases in sensitivity to facial expressions of happiness and of negative affect in general operate in persons with bipolar disorder when depressed. There is little evidence of similar biases in persons with bipolar disorder when manic.
Conclusions: These data show a mood-congruent bias in sensitivity to facial expressions in bipolar depressed patients.