Anxiety is associated with impulsivity in bipolar disorder

J Anxiety Disord. 2008 Jun;22(5):868-76. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2007.09.001. Epub 2007 Sep 11.


Impulsivity and anxiety, common features of bipolar disorder (BD), are each associated with a number of negative outcomes in BD. The relationship between anxiety and impulsivity, however, has not been a focus of study in BD. In this paper, we present data regarding the association between anxiety and impulsivity as measured by the Barratt impulsiveness scale (BIS-11) in 114 outpatients with BD. Results revealed that patients with a comorbid anxiety disorder displayed significantly higher levels of impulsivity relative to patients without an anxiety disorder. Moreover, a broad range of anxiety-related symptom domains was associated with greater impulsivity. Exploratory analyses also revealed that baseline anxiety symptoms were associated with elevated impulsivity at 9-month follow-up, although these relationships were less robust after covariate adjustment. These data demonstrate that anxiety is positively associated with impulsivity in patients with BD. Further studies are needed to elucidate the implications of and reasons for this association.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Bipolar Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Bipolar Disorder / epidemiology
  • Bipolar Disorder / psychology
  • Comorbidity
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / diagnosis
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Regression Analysis
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires