Is bipolar disorder specifically associated with aggression

Bipolar Disorders, 05/08/2012

Subjects with bipolar disorder display greater rates of anger and aggressive behaviors, especially during acute and psychotic episodes.


  • Subjects with bipolar I disorder (BP-I) and bipolar II disorder (BP-II) (n = 255), non-BP psychopathology (n = 85), and healthy controls (n = 84) were recruited.
  • Aggression was measured using the Aggression Questionnaire (AQ).
  • Group comparisons were adjusted for demographic and clinical differences (e.g., comorbid disorders) and multiple comparisons.
  • The effects of the subtype of BP, current versus past episode, polarity of current episode, psychosis, the presence of irritable mania/hypomania only, and pharmacological treatment were examined.


  • Subjects with BP showed significantly higher total and subscale AQ scores (raw and T-scores) when compared to subjects with non-BP psychopathology and healthy controls.
  • Exclusion of subjects with current mood episodes and those with common comorbid disorders yielded similar results.
  • There were no effects of BP subtype, polarity of the current episode, irritable manic/hypomanic episodes only, or current use of pharmacological treatments.
  • Independent of the severity of BP and polarity of the episode, those in a current mood episode showed significantly higher AQ scores than those not in a current mood episode.
  • Subjects with current psychosis showed significantly higher total AQ score, hostility, and anger than those without current psychosis.

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