Little is known about specific mood symptoms that may confer risk for suicidal ideation (SI) among patients with bipolar disorder (BD). We evaluated prospectively whether particular symptoms of depression and mania precede the onset or worsening of SI, among adults with or without a history of a suicide attempt.Methods
We examined prospective data from a large (N = 2,741) cohort of patients participating in the Systematic Treatment Enhancement Program for BD (STEP-BD). We evaluated history of suicide attempts at baseline, and symptoms of depression and mania at baseline and follow-up visits. Hierarchical linear modeling tested whether specific mood symptoms predicted subsequent levels of SI, and whether the strength of the associations differed based on suicide attempt history, after accounting for the influence of other mood symptoms and current SI.Results
Beyond overall current depression and mania symptom severity, baseline SI, and illness characteristics, several mood symptoms, including guilt, reduced self-esteem, psychomotor retardation and agitation, increases in appetite, and distractibility predicted more severe levels of subsequent SI. Problems with concentration, distraction, sleep loss and decreased need for sleep predicted subsequent SI more strongly among individuals with a suicide attempt history.Conclusions
Several specific mood symptoms may confer risk for the onset or worsening of SI among treatment-seeking patients with BD. Individuals with a previous suicide attempt may be at greater risk in part due to greater reactivity to certain mood symptoms in the form of SI. However, overall, effect sizes were small, suggesting the need to identify additional proximal predictors of SI.