Does anxiety increase impulsivity in patients with bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder?

J Psychiatr Res. 2012 May;46(5):616-21. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2012.01.016. Epub 2012 Feb 11.


The objective of this study was to examine whether anxiety increases impulsivity among patients with bipolar disorder (BPD) and major depressive disorder (MDD). Subjects comprised 205 BPD (mean age ± SD 36.6 ± 11.5 y; 29.3% males) and 105 with MDD (mean age ± SD 38 ± 13.1 y; 29.5% males) diagnosed using the DSM-IV-SCID. Impulsivity was assessed with the Barratt Impulsivity Scale and anxiety with the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale. Comorbid anxiety disorders were present in 58.9% of the BPD and 29.1% of MDD. BPD were significantly more impulsive than MDD (p < 0.001), and both BPD and MDD subjects showed significantly higher impulsivity when anxiety was present either as a comorbidity (p = 0.010) or as a symptom (p = 0.011). Impulsivity rose more rapidly with increasing anxiety symptoms in MDD than in BPD. The presence of anxiety, either as a comorbid disorder or as current anxiety symptoms, is associated with higher impulsivity in subjects with either BPD or MDD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bipolar Disorder / diagnosis
  • Bipolar Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / diagnosis*
  • Impulsive Behavior / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Regression Analysis