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Median Duration of Bipolar I Mood Episodes Is 13 Weeks

Cycling episodes, severe-onset episodes associated with decreased likelihood of recovery

WEDNESDAY, April 7 (HealthDay News) -- The median duration for bipolar I episodes is 13 weeks, and the probability of recovery is affected by the severity of onset and other factors, according to a study in the April issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

David A. Solomon, M.D., of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University in Providence, R.I., and colleagues conducted a study of 219 patients with bipolar I disorder to determine how long episodes last and what factors are associated with recovery.

The researchers found the median duration of mood episodes to be 13 weeks, with more than 75 percent of patients recovering within a year. Patients with more severe onset, such as psychosis in the first week of the episode, had a lower probability of recovery (hazard ratio, 0.746), as did patients with a greater number of years spent ill with any mood episode (hazard ratio, 0.917). Compared with probability of recovery from a major depressive episode, there was a significantly reduced probability of recovery from a cycling episode (switching from one pole to the other without a recovery in between, hazard ratio, 0.438) but a significantly increased probability of recovery from a mania episode, hypomania or minor depression (hazard ratios, 1.713, 4.502 and 2.027, respectively).

"The median duration of bipolar I mood episodes was 13 weeks, and the probability of recovery was significantly decreased for cycling episodes, mood episodes with severe onset, and subjects with greater cumulative morbidity," the authors write.

Several authors reported financial relationships with the pharmaceutical industry.

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