Different impulsivity profiles in borderline personality disorder and bipolar II disorder

Erlend Bøen, Benjamin Hummelen, Torbjørn Elvsåshagen, Birgitte Boye, Stein Andersson, Sigmund Karterud, Ulrik F Malt
Journal of Affective Disorders 2015 January 1, 170: 104-11

INTRODUCTION: Borderline personality disorder (BPD) and bipolar II disorder (BP II) share clinical characteristics including impulsivity. Their relationship is disputed. In this study, we investigated self-reported impulsivity in these patient groups and in a healthy control group. Effects of current mood state and of traumatic childhood experiences were explored.

METHODS: Twenty-five patients with BPD without comorbid bipolar disorder; 20 patients with BP II without comorbid BPD; and 44 healthy control subjects completed the UPPS questionnaire which yields assessments of four components of impulsivity: Urgency, Lack of Premeditation, Lack of Perseverance, and Sensation Seeking. Current mood state was rated using the Montgomery Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS), and the Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS). Traumatic childhood experiences were assessed using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ). Group differences in UPPS levels; and effects of mood state and CTQ score on UPPS scores in patients were investigated.

RESULTS: BPD patients showed significantly higher levels of Urgency and Lack of Perseverance than BP II patients and controls, and a significantly higher level of Lack of Premeditation than controls. BP II patients showed higher levels of Urgency and Lack of Perseverance than controls. In BP II, higher MADRS scores were associated with higher impulsivity scores. Also, higher CTQ scores were associated with higher Urgency scores in BP II.

LIMITATIONS: Relatively small sample size; cross-sectional assessment of influence of mood state.

CONCLUSIONS: BPD patients exhibited markedly elevated UPPS impulsivity scores compared with healthy controls and BP II patients, and the elevations were not related to current mood state. BP II patients showed moderately elevated impulsivity scores which were associated with a depressed mood state and to some extent with a history of childhood trauma. The findings suggest that BPD and BP II have different impulsivity profiles.


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