Bipolar disorder with comorbid cluster B personality disorder features: impact on suicidality

Jessica L Garno, Joseph F Goldberg, Paul Michael Ramirez, Barry A Ritzler
Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 2005, 66 (3): 339-45

BACKGROUND: Because of their overlapping phenomenology and mutually chronic, persistent nature, distinctions between bipolar disorder and cluster B personality disorders remain a source of unresolved clinical controversy. The extent to which comorbid personality disorders impact course and outcome for bipolar patients also has received little systematic study.

METHOD: One hundred DSM-IV bipolar I (N = 73) or II (N = 27) patients consecutively underwent diagnostic evaluations with structured clinical interviews for DSM-IV Axis I and cluster B Axis II disorders, along with assessments of histories of childhood trauma or abuse. Cluster B diagnostic comorbidity was examined relative to lifetime substance abuse, suicide attempt histories, and other clinical features.

RESULTS: Thirty percent of subjects met DSM-IV criteria for a cluster B personality disorder (17% borderline, 6% antisocial, 5% histrionic, 8% narcissistic). Cluster B diagnoses were significantly linked with histories of childhood emotional abuse (p = .009), physical abuse (p = .014), and emotional neglect (p = .022), but not sexual abuse or physical neglect. Cluster B comorbidity was associated with significantly more lifetime suicide attempts and current depression. Lifetime suicide attempts were significantly associated with cluster B comorbidity (OR = 3.195, 95% CI = 1.124 to 9.088), controlling for current depression severity, lifetime substance abuse, and past sexual or emotional abuse.

CONCLUSIONS: Cluster B personality disorders are prevalent comorbid conditions identifiable in a substantial number of individuals with bipolar disorder, making an independent contribution to increased lifetime suicide risk.

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