• functioning;
  • functional impairment;
  • functional recovery;
  • first-episode bipolar;
  • multiple-episode bipolar;
  • staging model

Rosa AR, González-Ortega I, González-Pinto A, Echeburúa E, Comes M, Martínez-Àran A, Ugarte A, Fernández M, Vieta E. One-year psychosocial functioning in patients in the early vs. late stage of bipolar disorder.

Objective:  The aim of this 1-year follow-up study was to compare functional outcome as well as clinical differences between patients with first- and multiple-episode bipolar disorder.

Method:  Bipolar disorder patients with first (n = 60) and multiple episodes (n = 59) were recruited from two hospitals in Spain. The Functioning Assessment Short Test (FAST) was used to assess functioning. The Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD) and the Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS) were administered to assess mood symptoms.

Results:  As expected, patients with first episode experienced a greater functioning compared to patients with multiple episodes (11.26 ± 10.94 vs. 26.91 ± 13.96; t = 6.436, P < 0.001). There were significant demographic and clinical differences between both groups. Baseline depressive symptoms (F = 9.553, df = 4, 102; P < 0.001) and age (F = 14.145, df = 4, 103; P < 0.001) were significantly associated with poor functional recovery at 6-month and 12-month assessment, respectively, in a group of patients with multiple episodes.

Conclusion:  Our data give support to the model of staging in bipolar disorder, showing that the enduring neurotoxicity of repeated episodes may contribute to sustained impairment in multiple areas of psychosocial functioning.