Suicidality in Bipolar Disorder: The Role of Emotion-Triggered Impulsivity

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A growing body of research suggests that impulsive responses to emotion more robustly predict suicidality than do other forms of impulsivity. This issue has not yet been examined within bipolar disorder, however. Participants diagnosed with bipolar I disorder (n = 133) and control participants (n = 110) diagnosed with no mood or psychotic disorder completed self-report measures of emotion-triggered impulsivity (Negative and Positive Urgency Scales) and interviews concerning lifetime suicidality. Analyses examined the effects of emotion-triggered impulsivity alone and in combination with gender, age of onset, depression severity, comorbid anxiety, comorbid substance use, and medication. A history of suicide ideation and attempts, as well as self-harm, were significantly more common in the bipolar disorder group compared with the control group. Impulsive responses to positive emotions related to suicide ideation, attempts, and self-harm within the bipolar group. Findings extend research on the importance of emotion-triggered impulsivity to a broad range of key outcomes within bipolar disorder. The discussion focuses on limitations and potential clinical implications.

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