Psychotic versus non-psychotic bipolar disorder: Socio-demographic and clinical profiles in an Italian nationwide study

ISBD Italian Chapter Epidemiological Group, Alfredo Carlo Altamura, Massimiliano Buoli, Bruno Mario Cesana, Andrea Fagiolini, Andrea de Bartolomeis, Giuseppe Maina, Antonello Bellomo, Bernardo Dell’Osso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Psychotic versus non-psychotic patients with bipolar disorder have been traditionally associated with different unfavorable clinical features. In this study on bipolar Italian patients, we aimed to compare clinical and demographic differences between psychotic and non-psychotic individuals, exploring clinical factors that may favor early diagnosis and personalized treatment. Methods: A total of 1671 patients (males: n = 712 and females: n = 959; bipolar type 1: n = 1038 and bipolar type 2: n = 633) from different psychiatric departments were compared according to the lifetime presence of psychotic symptoms in terms of socio-demographic and clinical variables. Chi-square tests for qualitative variables and Student’s t-tests for quantitative variables were performed for group comparison, and a multivariable logistic regression was performed, considering the lifetime psychotic symptoms as dependent variables and socio-demographic/clinical characteristics as independent variables. Results: Psychotic versus non-psychotic bipolar subjects resulted to: be more frequently unemployed (p < 0.01) and never married/partnered (p < 0.01); have an earlier age at onset (p < 0.01); more frequently receive a first diagnosis different from a mood disorder (p < 0.01); have a shorter duration of untreated illness (p < 0.01); have a more frequently hypomanic/manic prevalent polarity (p < 0.01) and a prevalent manic–depressive type of cycling (p < 0.01); present a lower lifetime number of depressive episodes (p < 0.01), but have more manic episodes (p < 0.01); and less insight (p < 0.01) and more hospitalizations in the last year (p < 0.01). Multivariable regression analysis showed that psychotic versus non-psychotic bipolar patients received more frequently a first diagnosis different from bipolar disorder (odds ratio = 0.64, 95% confidence interval = [0.46, 0.90], p = 0.02) or major depressive disorder (odds ratio = 0.66, 95% confidence interval = [0.48, 0.91], p = 0.02), had more frequently a prevalent manic polarity (odds ratio = 1.84, 95% confidence interval = [1.14, 2.98], p < 0.01) and had a higher number of lifetime manic episodes (more than six) (odds ratio = 8.79, 95% confidence interval = [5.93, 13.05], p < 0.01). Conclusion: Lifetime psychotic symptoms in bipolar disorder are associated with unfavorable socio-demographic and clinical features as well as with a more frequent initial misdiagnosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)772-781
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Bipolar disorder
  • clinical variables
  • psychotic symptoms
  • socio-demographic features

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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