Objectives: To compare the Quality of Life (QoL) of bipolar disorder (BD) patients with that of the general population; and, within the BD patients, to find the demographic and clinical variables associated with low QoL, controlling for the effects of potential confounders.
Methods: Based on the 25th percentile of the physical (PCS) and the mental (MCS) component scores (PCS <53 and MCS < 50, respectively) of the Medical Outcomes Survey 36-item Short-Form Health-Survey (SF-36) of a general population representative sample (n = 1,210), we compared by logistic regression the QoL of 48 euthymic and 60 non-euthymic BD outpatients and the general population. Within BD patients, we analyzed the clinical and course-of-illness variables associated with low physical and mental QoL, including manic and depressive symptoms and consumption of addictive substances; in addition, we calculated the partial correlation of the different variables with the dimensional PCS and MCS through multiple linear regression.
Results: Low physical QoL was significantly more frequent among both euthymic [odds ratio (OR) = 3.5; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.9–6.5] and non-euthymic (OR = 4.0; 95% CI: 2.3–7.0) BD patients than in the general population; the respective values for low mental QoL were OR = 2.2; 95% CI: 1.2–4.0 and OR = 8.5; 95% CI: 4.6–15.7. Low mental QoL was more frequent among non-euthymic than euthymic BD patients (OR = 3.9; 95% CI: 1.6–9.1). Within BD patients, low mental QoL was associated with the length of illness (or early onset), the presence of depressive symptoms, nicotine dependence and the lack of social support.
Conclusions: Among the BD patients, who experience lower physical and mental QoL even in a euthymic period, the optimal control of depressive symptoms as well as the availability of social support may enhance their well-being.