Background: Psychotic symptoms are common in the case of manic, depressive and mixed episodes of bipolar disorder; however, the assessment of delusions and hallucinations is frequently improper, thus the patients presenting also psychotic symptoms are treated based on their diagnosis of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder or paranoia. Psychotic symptoms in bipolar disorder result less favourable outcomes and course of illness.
Methods: 365 patients (106 males, 259 females) were hospitalized in or institution from January 1st 2015 to September 30th 2016, who were diagnosed with bipolar disorder according to the ICD-10 criteria. The number of patients presenting psychotic symptoms was 89 (24%); 55 of whom (62%) belonged to the bipolar I, and 34 (38%) belonged to the bipolar II group. As a control group of the psychotic bipolar patients, we chose 80 bipolar patients hospitalized in the above mentioned period, who did not present psychotic symptoms either at the current or their previous hospitalizations.
Results: We found psychotic mania in the case of 24 patients (27%, 12 males, 12 females); and the delusions were of grandiose, religious and paranoid content. The number of depressive patients presenting psychotic symptoms was 39 (44%, 30 females, 9 males); their delusions were dominantly characterized by feelings of guilt, hypochondria and impoverishment. We treated 26 patients (29%, 18 females, 8 males) with mixed episodes accompanied by psychotic symptoms; they were characterized by depressive delusions. Compared to the non-psychotic bipolar patients, in the case of psychotic bipolar patients manic and depressive episodes, bipolar I diagnosis, early onset of the disease (under the age of 20), previous suicide attempts and comorbid personality disorder were significantly more frequent at the time of hospitalization, whereas mixed affective episodes and bipolar II diagnosis dominated in the non-psychotic group. Similarly, the residual symptoms were more common in the psychotic group (64 patients 72% vs 34 patients 43%) and previous hospitalizations was higher in the psychotic group (males 10.6, females 12.5 vs. males 7.8, females 8.6). With regard to psychotic symptoms, there was no difference between the two groups in terms of positive family history, comorbid anxiety disorder or alcohol dependency.
Conclusions: Early onset of the disease, bipolar I diagnosis and comorbid personality disorder were typical of psychotic bipolar patients; in addition, suicide attempts and residual symptoms were more common compared to the non-psychotic group.
Limitations: The relatively lower number of patients (89 and 80 patients) and the fact that the data were processed retrospectively limit the generalizability of our results.