PARIS – Aggressiveness deserves to be incorporated in the next Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders update as a new clinical criterion triggering application of the “with mixed features” specifier in patients diagnosed with a major depressive episode, Norma Verdolini, MD, said at the annual congress of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology.
“Aggressiveness might be a trait component of bipolarity and a diagnostic indicator of ‘mixicity’ in patients with a major depressive episode. This has implications for the therapeutic strategy,” said Dr. Verdolini of the bipolar disorders unit at the University of Barcelona Institute of Neurosciences.
The BRIDGE-II-MIX study was a cross-sectional observational study of 2,811 adults with MDE at 239 centers in eight European countries ( . Three hundred ninety-nine participants (14.2%) met the operational definition of physical or verbal aggressiveness used in Dr. Verdolini’s new post-hoc analysis.
Statistically significant and clinically meaningful differences were found between MDE patients with aggressiveness (MDE-aggro) and MDE without aggressiveness. For example, the MDE-aggro group was twice as likely to meet DSM-IV-TR criteria for bipolar disorder I. Twenty-seven percent of the MDE-aggro group met DSM-5 criteria for a mixed state, meaning both depressed mood and mania in the same episode, compared with just 4% of the MDE-no-aggro group.
The MDE-aggro patients also had a strikingly greater prevalence of comorbid borderline personality disorder, by a margin of 20% versus 4%. They had a younger mean age at their first depressive episode: 29.9 years old, compared with 36.1 in the MDE-no-aggro group. The MDE-aggro patients had more prior mood episodes and a greater number of lifetime suicide attempts. In addition, they had significantly more severe depression, mania, and bipolar disorder scores on the .
“Our results should prompt reconsideration of the diagnostic criteria for the mixed features specifier. The detection of aggression in MDE could represent a therapeutic target in personalized pharmacological treatment for bipolar disorder,” Dr. Verdolini concluded.
The BRIDGE-II-MIX study was sponsored by Sanofi-Aventis. Dr. Verdolini reported receiving research funding from the company.