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Gender differences in the phenomenology of bipolar disorder


  • Lars Vedel Kessing

    1. Department of Psychiatry, University of Copenhagen, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen and Department of Psychiatric Demography, University of Aarhus, Psychiatric Hospital, Risskov, Denmark
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  • The author of this paper does not have any commercial associations that might pose a conflict of interest in connection with this manuscript.

Lars Vedel Kessing, MD, DMSc, Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital of Copenhagen, Rigshospitalet, Blegdamsvej 9, DK 2100 Copenhagen Ø, Denmark.
Fax: 3545-6218;


Objectives:  To investigate gender differences in the phenomenology of episodes in bipolar disorder as according to ICD-10.

Methods:  All patients who got a diagnosis of a manic episode/bipolar disorder in a period from 1994 to 2002 at the first outpatient treatment ever or at the first discharge from psychiatric hospitalization ever in Denmark were identified in a nationwide register.

Results:  Totally, 682 outpatients and 1037 inpatients got a diagnosis of a manic episode/bipolar disorder at the first contact ever. Significantly more women were treated as outpatients than as inpatients. Women were treated for longer periods as inpatients but not as outpatients. In both settings, the prevalence of depressive versus manic/mixed episodes was similar for men and women and the severity of manic episodes (hypomanic /manic without psychosis/manic with psychosis) and the severity of depressive episodes (mild/moderate/severe without psychosis/severe with psychosis) did not differ between genders. The prevalence of psychotic symptoms at first contact was the same for both genders. Among patients treated in outpatient settings more men than women presented with comorbid substance abuse and among patients treated during hospitalization more women than men presented with mixed episodes.

Conclusions:  Besides differences in the prevalence of mixed episodes and comorbid substance abuse few gender differences are found among patients presenting with a manic episode/bipolar disorder at first contact in psychiatric inpatient or outpatient hospital settings.

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