Life events as predictors of mania and depression in bipolar I disorder

J Abnorm Psychol. 2008 May;117(2):268-277. doi: 10.1037/0021-843X.117.2.268.


To date, few prospective studies of life events and bipolar disorder are available, and even fewer have separately examined the role of life events in depression and mania. The goal of this study was to prospectively examine the role of negative and goal-attainment life events as predictors of the course of bipolar disorder. One hundred twenty-five individuals with bipolar I disorder were interviewed monthly for an average of 27 months. Negative and goal-attainment life events were assessed with the Life Events and Difficulties Schedule. Changes in symptoms were evaluated using the Modified Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression and the Bech-Rafaelsen Mania Scale. The clearest results were obtained for goal-attainment life events, which predicted increases in manic symptoms over time. Negative life events predicted increases in depressive symptoms within regression models but were not predictive within multilevel modeling of changes in depressive symptoms. Given different patterns for goal attainment and negative life events, it appears important to consider specific forms of life events in models of bipolar disorder.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Aspirations, Psychological
  • Bipolar Disorder / diagnosis
  • Bipolar Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Goals
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Personality Assessment
  • Prospective Studies